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Federal Judge Strikes Requirement For Draft-Registration Aid Form

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A federal district judge in Boston last week struck down a U.S. Education Department rule requiring all college students seeking federal aid to sign a form stating that they have registered for the draft or are not required to do so by law.

U.S. District Judge Robert E. Keeton ordered the department to halt the practice temporarily in a ruling handed down on April 11.

'New Ground' Established

In his 11-page memorandum, Judge Keeton said the regulation "established a new ground for denial of aid: failure to comply with an administrative requirement that all applicants for aid file a registration-compliance statement."

"In other words," he continued, "the sanction that Congress reserved for a small group of lawbreakers was imposed by [the Secretary of Education] on a potentially much larger group who have not broken any law and who have met all the statuatory requirements for aid."

The U.S. Justice Department3spokesman who normally handles questions about litigation involving the registration-compliance regulation could not be reached for comment last week.

Litigants Exempt

The case was brought by three Boston University theology students--one man and two women--who were exempt from the registration requirement because of age or sex.

They contended that by refusing to fill out the form they would lose all their financial aid and would have to quit school.

In 1983, the Congress adopted an amendment to a Defense Department authorization bill requiring a cutoff of federal grants and loans to college students who refuse to register for the draft.

Another lawsuit testing the constitutionality of the law, known as the Solomon Amendment, will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 23. That case is Selective Service System v. Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.--tm

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