Draft dodgers pardoned
American Legion strongly opposed to Carter's first executive order.
Newly elected President Jimmy Carter, a World War II veteran and American Legion member, signs Executive Order No. 1 granting a full, complete and unconditional pardon to those who violated the Selective Service Act between 1964 and 1973, including approximately 9,000 convicted of draft evasion. The American Legion had been vocal in its opposition to any form of amnesty granted to anyone who dodged the draft while others went to war. Carter had outlined his plan to pardon the violators at the 1976 American Legion National Convention in Seattle. The Legionnaires, many of whom booed the announcement, were adamantly opposed and explored possible legal and constitutional violations of such a pardon.
Ultimately, the pardons were issued, and American Legion leaders warned what such a move would mean for national security in the event of a future draft. The wartime veterans of the organization had argued since the possibility of pardons became public that no pardons should be granted, hearkening to the same position of the World War I American Legion founders who demanded justice for “alien slackers” who lived in the United States but used their foreign citizenship to escape conscription during the Great War.