DuVernay v. United States Historic Case

At a Glance

Date Filed: 


Case Description 

DuVernay v. United States is a lawsuit in which the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) challenged the exclusion of Black people from draft boards in predominately Black neighborhoods.

In the 1960’s, young men in Black communities generally did not have the benefit of student deferments or the sophisticated selective service counseling available to the white middle class. DuVernay was a young man who lived in a Black community. DuVernay’s situation was exacerbated by the fact that one of the members of his draft board was the local leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

In an effort to provide a remedy to the mass induction of Black men into the military, and to make the local board representative and responsive to the community served by that board, CCR lawyers brought a suit challenging the total exclusion of Black people from draft boards in Black neighborhoods.

In DuVernay, the Supreme Court was asked to consider the legality of the exclusion of Black people from the selective service boards that function in Black neighborhoods. After granting certiorari, the Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit holding that the racial composition of the draft boards was not relevant. The Court affirmed the decision by a 4-4 vote, thus avoiding a decision on this fundamental issue.