United States v. St. Clair, 293 F. Supp. 337, 341 (E.D.N Y
1968); United States v. Lonseth, 300 F. Supp. 857 at 859 (D.Or.
Moreover, a local board must state its reasons for a denial
when a registrant has met the statutory criteria, Dickinson v.
United States, 346 U.S. 389, 74 S.Ct. 152, 98 L.Ed. 132 (1953).
Otherwise, a court cannot determine whether a board's denial of
a requested classification was based on a belief that the
registrant's statements, even if true, did not entitle him to
the classification or on the reasonable disbelief of certain
allegations necessary to the registrant's prima facie case.
United States v. Haughton, 413 F.2d 736 at 739 (9 Cir. 1969).
The constitutional requirement of some specificity in a
selective service record is clear. A registrant is at least
entitled to be told in what way his case is defective so that
he has a reasonable opportunity to obtain evidence to support
it. The local board should endeavor to point out exactly what
items influenced its opinion thereby providing the
registrant-appellant a fair opportunity to attack those
conclusions. See United States v. St. Clair, supra, 293 F. Supp.
It is argued by the government, as it has been in other
selective service cases, that Congress did not require the
local boards to be judicial tribunals and make specific
findings. The point is made that local boards are lay
organizations, consisting of untrained and unpaid members who
are not equipped to make complete factual determinations of the
evidence. But the mere fact that a decision making body is
unpaid and untrained does not empower it to make blind
judgments. It is inconsistent not only with the historic
development of our legal system, but with constitutional
principles of due process and fairness. It is true that
Congress did not specifically require factual findings to be
made by the local board but board decisions are reviewable, and
absent some indication of the underlying basis for the local
board's conclusion, intelligent review is impossible. This does
not necessarily mean detailed findings of fact and conclusions
of law such as a court would enter, but some specific
suggestion of the local board's determination of the reasons
for the board's action other than a general conclusion that the
registrant failed to meet the requirements for a I-O
To illustrate the dilemma a reviewing body faces absent any
specification of grounds, let us assume that the local board
here believed that the registrant did not have a conscientious
objection to war because he did not believe in a divine being
or in a God. The board would be legally incorrect and there
would be no basis-in-fact for its decision, but without an
explanatory expression of its grounds, a reviewing body would
never know. Alternatively, the board may have doubted the bona
fides of registrant's professed conscientious objection to war
in the light of his various efforts to avoid induction, a valid
basis-in-fact for its action. We emphasize that we just do not
know why the local board refused to grant petitioner a I-O
classification because what is before us is suceptible of
almost endless interpretation.
The task of a reviewing body is not to search the record for
some basis to affirm. Rather, the system requires that the
reviewing body have before it some idea of the basis for the
local board's determination.
For the above reasons, the petition for a writ of habeas
corpus is granted.*fn2