June 20, 1967. Congress rejects proposed major reforms of the draft, or selective service, in favor of modest changes to the existing system. Congress was required to reauthorize the induction authority of the draft law every four years, and the extensions were typically a matter of routine. However, increasing antiwar protests and complaints from Republicans in Congress about student deferments and class bias prompted LBJ to create the National Advisory Commission on Selective Service, headed by Burke Marshall, pictured.
The NACSS report was followed by a congressional report. Both commissions agreed that the draft had to be extended in 1967 and that the youngest potential draftees should be called up first. They disagreed on whether the draft boards should be centralized or locally controlled, and whether college students should be eligible for selection. LBJ ordered more study on these two issues, and finally recommended to Congress in March 1967 that they end graduate student deferments, make the local boards more representative of their areas, and reexamine draft board structure.
Despite Marshall’s plan for more sweeping reforms, Congress ultimately passes a bill that requires Congressional approval for a lottery system, ends graduate student deferments, leaves selection standards up to local boards, and requires that the Justice Department prosecute draft-dodgers and inform Congress as to the outcome of their cases. The only reforms are that women will be allowed on draft boards, and draft board membership is limited to 25 years with a forced retirement age of 75.
These minor changes do little to defuse claims that the draft is biased against black men, especially in the south, since the boards are locally run and the governors appoint the members of the appeal boards. The draft continues to be a lightening rod for dissent, and the anti-war and anti-draft and protests continue.
Reference: George Q. Flynn, The Draft, 1940-1973, Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1993.