Draft Resister Wayte May Plead Guilty
Draft resister David Wayte, who in March lost a major U.S. Supreme Court battle against draft registration, said Wednesday that he will probably plead guilty to charges of failing to register.
The 24-year-old Pasadena man showed up for his court date Wednesday, but it was postponed until today.
“I’m thinking seriously of changing my plea to guilty,” Wayte told reporters outside the Los Angeles Federal Courthouse on Wednesday. ". . . I feel all the defenses I believe in have been considered. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled against selective prosecution, there are no other defenses I could raise that I believe in.”
Wayte said he still believes he was singled out for prosecution by the government because he was a vocal opponent of draft registration.
“If I had not gone public and expressed my opposition to draft registration, I would not be prosecuted,” he said.
Wayte received his Selective Service notice in July, 1980, and decided “not to register, because I didn’t want to be a part of my government’s preparation for war,” he said in March.
In November, 1982, U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter Jr. ruled that the government had violated Wayte’s free speech rights by prosecuting only vocal resisters. A federal appeals court overturned the ruling in July, 1983.
The Supreme Court upheld the appellate court’s decision in March, ruling that the government did not violate the former Yale University student’s free speech or equal protection rights by selective prosecution of those who vocally opposed registration.
After the decision, Wayte said, “I’m disappointed I lost against the Supreme Court, but I think it was a moral victory, because I don’t believe in war, and if I stand up for peace and against the draft, that’s a victory.”
Wednesday, however, he said, “I’m afraid of prison, and I certainly don’t want to go. I think it would be more constructive for me to do some alternative community service. But I’m prepared to go to prison if I have to.”
He said he has been in contact with other draft resisters who have gone to prison and “none of them regret what they’ve done.”
“Talking to them has encouraged me,” he said.
Throughout the legal battle, Wayte has been working at a school for disabled adults.