The Center on Conscience & War is a non-profit organization that advocates for the rights of conscience, opposes military conscription, and serves all conscientious objectors to war. 

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Selective Service Changes Unfair Procedures at CCW's Behest

February 2, 2009

The Center learned today (in advance of an official announcement scheduled for April) that our staff successfully persuaded Selective Service to change an inherently unfair regulation that would have caused some COs in a draft to be harmed in violation of the law for following their conscience.  After years of objecting by the Center, the change was made to a rule that treated COs differently depending on their willingness to submit to their bodies to the control of the military.

Registrant Integrated Processing Manual (RIMS), Selective Service’s procedures manual, provides that when someone is selected by the lottery they will be sent an order to report to a Military Entrance Processing Station for a physical. If they pass the physical, they will be given 10 days to file all claims. (hardship, conscientious objection, etc.) And if they don't file any claims, they will likely be sent an order to report for induction shortly after that 10 day period. 

Recognizing that some conscientious objectors may object to reporting and subjecting themselves to military control for the physical, the procedures correctly allow for these COs to waive the physical.  However, RIMS states that a conscientious objector who waives the physical ALSO waives his right to file for ANY other claim.

Since this Manual was first proposed, CCW has maintained that this was neither fair nor legal and has urged that these COs be treated the same as other potential draftees and allowed to file for whatever classification for which they might qualify. Several months ago the Center once again submitted recommendations to Selective Service to assure that an draft be as fair as possible and to at the very least be conducted in a legal manner that did not impinge on the rights of COs.

A representative of Selective Service informed the Center today, “Upon reviewing the procedures it did appear to be punitive and there was no reason for that” therefore conscientious objectors who waive the physical will be allowed to file claims just like everyone else.

“I am glad that our perseverance on this and other issues has paid off to protect the rights of any future draftees,” announced J. E. McNeil, Executive Director of the Center.  “Even though we see no signs of a draft in the immediate future, it is our job to make sure that any regulations be fair and in line with the law.  We are always glad when Selective Service sees things our way.”

The new procedures will not be officially implemented until later this spring.

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