EAGLES V. SAMUELS, 329 U. S. 304 (1946)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Eagles v. Samuels, 329 U.S. 304 (1946)

Eagles v. Samuels

No. 59

Argued November 21, 1946

Decided December 23, 1946

329 U.S. 304


Respondent registered under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 and was classified IV-D under § 5(d), which exempts "students who are preparing for the ministry in theological or divinity schools recognized as such for more than one year" prior to the Act. Subsequently, he appeared before an advisory panel on theological classifications established by the New York City Director of Selective Service pursuant to § 10(a)(2), which consisted of prominent laymen and rabbis of respondent's faith. After hearing respondent, the panel concluded that he was not "preparing in good faith for a career of service in the practicing rabbinate," and so reported to the City Director, who transmitted this report and the transcript of the hearing to the local board with a request that respondent's classification be reopened, but with the statement that, while the local board should give careful consideration to the recommendation of the panel, the determination of the classification must be made by the board itself or by an appeal agency. The local board reclassified respondent I-A. After respondent submitted additional evidence and had two hearings before the local board and one before the board of appeal, his classification as I-A was sustained, and he was inducted into the Army. He petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus, and was released unconditionally from military custody.


1. The fact that respondent had been released unconditionally from military custody under a writ of habeas corpus does not make the case moot in this Court, since a reversal would make lawful a resumption of the custody. Pp. 329 U. S. 306-308.

2. Habeas corpus may not be used as a writ of error, and its function is exhausted when it is ascertained that the agency under whose order the petitioner is being held had jurisdiction to act. Pp. 329 U. S. 311, 329 U. S. 315.

3. The use of the theological panel was authorized by § 10(a)(2) of the Act, authorizing the establishment of "civilian local boards, civilian appeal boards, and such other agencies . . . as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act." Pp. 329 U. S. 308, 329 U. S. 312-313.

Page 329 U. S. 305

4. Failure of the statement filed by the panel to disclose the names of its members did not render the administrative proceedings invalid per se where the registrant appeared before them, saw them face to face, recognized one of them, and made no effort, either at the time or subsequently, to ascertain who the others were. P. 329 U. S. 314.

5. Nor are the administrative proceedings invalidated by the fact that, in addition to answering ecclesiastical questions, the panel rendered an advisory opinion on the bona fides of his claim. P. 329 U. S. 316.

6. The fact that there was a two-year interruption in respondent's education, that he returned to the day session of the seminary in the month when his selective service questionnaire was returned, and that the seminary was not preparing men exclusively for the rabbinate, makes it impossible to say that the final classification made by the board of appeal was without evidence to support it. Pp. 329 U. S. 316-317.

151 F.2d 801, reversed.

The District Court dismissed a writ of habeas corpus sought by respondent on the ground that he had been illegally inducted into military service. The Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, 151 F.2d 801, and he was released unconditionally. This Court granted certiorari. 328 U.S. 830. Reversed, p. 329 U. S. 317.

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