“We had two 3-ring notebooks in the office – Bob Price, fresh from his ministerial training, labeled the one with the Regulations the Mishnah and the one with the Interpretive Memoranda the Gemara.
“But we didn’t use the Act much – we mainly used the Regulations instead. We had a subscription so the Selective Service System would send us updates to the Regulations and new Memoranda as they appeared.
“I took a lot of people through the CO process, including many of my friends – Joel Solkoff, for example, and Geoff Greene. I was pretty rigorous in exploring the issues. You say you don’t believe in the use of force? How about using force to open a window? And so on Socratically until we got to what the man really believed. In many cases he was not quite sure what he believed. We were careful not to maneuver people into positions which satisfied the law if those positions did not truly reflect their beliefs. A lot of what I did in CO counseling was help people, who may not have been any more certain than I was when I filled out my own form, figure out just what they really did believe.
“We were very good also at technical details. Don’t ask for the form until you’ve prepared answers to the questions first. A teaching job will (or won’t) get you a II-A because. You’re too old for a statutory II-S, you need Local Board permission, and given your circumstances here’s what you might say in your request. This I-A may look scary but it doesn’t mean you’re about to be drafted, only reclassified. And lots more of the same. It was great training for a lawyer and I think it is the reason I was later admitted to Penn Law despite my spotty academic record.
“We also counseled people who wanted to break the law – by not registering, by refusing induction, by burning their draft cards, or by fleeing to Canada. We were very scrupulous not to tell people to break the law, but we did tell them very specifically what was involved, what was legal and what was not, what they could expect if they did what they were planning to do. We urged people at least to consider using lawful methods first – do you need to ignore the classification process and get prosecuted if you can qualify as a CO or get a deferment or an exemption? There were conscientious reasons why people might want to do this, and we respected them – we just wanted to be sure people understood what they were doing and knew the full range of their options.”