Mcgee Vv. United States

402 U.S. 479 (1971)


In February 1966, while attending the University of Rochester, P applied to his local Selective Service board for conscientious objector status. The board continued P's existing classification -- student deferment -- and advised him that the conscientious objector claim would be passed upon when student status no longer applied. P also write President Johnson enclosing the charred remnants of his draft card. P stated that he had 'already been accepted for graduate study in a program where I would probably qualify for the theological deferment.' A copy was forwarded to the local board; the board continued petitioner's student deferment. The board sent him a current information questionnaire (SSS Form 127) and P returned the questionnaire unanswered and announced in a cover letter that henceforth he would adhere to a policy of noncooperation with the Selective Service System. In September 1967 the board rejected the pending conscientious objector claim and reclassified petitioner I-A. P returned to the board, unopened, the communication notifying him of the reclassification and of his right to appear before the local board, to confer with the Government appeal agent, and to appeal. P did respond to an order to appear for induction in January 1968, and he took a physical examination at that time. However, he refused to submit to induction. P was prosecuted, under § 12 (a) of the Military Selective Service Act of 1967. P was convicted and sentenced to two years' imprisonment on each count, the sentences to run concurrently. P's defense to liability was that the local board had erred in classifying him I-A. The Court of Appeals held that the defense of incorrect classification was barred because petitioner had failed to exhaust the administrative remedies available for correction of such an error. The conviction was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.