Harvard Attacks Registration Bill

The University yesterday officially charged that there are "substantial constitutional problems posed" by the new law linking draft registration with Federal financial aid.

The comment, conveyed in a letter from General Counsel Daniel Steiner '54 to the Department of Education, also attacks the regulation as unnecessarily burdensome to universities.

Steiner's letter, made public yesterday, is the official University comment on the regulations which accompany the new law. Yesterday was the last day of the 30-day public comment period suggestions on the administrative regulations.

The law, which would go into effect next full, prevents non-registrants from collecting federal grants, loans or work-study assistance. Dean of the Faculty Henry Rosovsky announced two weeks ago that the University would probably provide non-registrants affected by the law with market rate loans and jobs.

Under the proposed regulations, universities must revive certification from the government that a student has registered if required to do so before he can receive federal financial aid.


Steiner recommends on he half of Harvard that universities should have no responsibility is enforce the law for at least a year, both for administrative reasons and to allow "for resolution of the substantial constitutional question."

He adds that practical problems should be delayed, "while the validity of the law is in doubt."

Steiner is the first Harvard official to suggest publicly that the new law may have constitutional flaws. He said yesterday that officials were "looking at a range of questions," but declined further comment.

The one-and-one-half page correspondence deals primarily with the University's objections that the regulations create unnecessary paperwork, costs and enforcement responsibility for the University.

The letter supports the more detailed 45-page comment from the American Council of Education (ACE), also filed yesterday. The University concurs with the ACE in recommending that the Department of Education and Selective Service System take more responsibility for enforcing the law.

Sheldon Steinbuch, general counsel of the ACE, said yesterday that his organization, of which Harvard is a member, would like to see students check off that they have registrant for the draft and them send the form to the Department of Education for verification.

An official at the department of Education, who asked not to be identifies, said yesterday that "there was a possibility" that the proposed regulations could be modifies before they are issues later this spring.

Steiner suggested in the letter that the possible problem of a non-registrant's collecting financial aid "does not warrant the elaborate administrative process and the distortion of the relationship between students and their university."

A circuit court judge in Minnesota is expected to decide soon whether to grant an injunction to three University of Minnesota students who have challenged the law.

The students have argued that the new law violates constitutional prosecution against self-incrimination and illegally punishes students without prior proof of wrongdoing.