Should Women Register For The Draft? Should Anyone?

Isn’t It Time We End Selective Service Registration Altogether?

by Avens O’Brien

This month, discussions have reemerged regarding equality in draft registration. According to Military.com, Army Secretary John McHugh said “If your objective is true and pure equality then you have to look at all aspects” and registration for the draft “will be one of those things. That will have to be considered.”

Much of the discussion in public circles, particularly in military ones, seems to focus the debate on whether or not women should be made “equal” to men by extending draft registration to include them. We’ll return to “equality” in a minute, but I’d like to break down a few things:

・The Selective Service System is an independent agency of the US government that maintains information on those potentially subject to military conscription.

・Registration is mandatory for virtually all male US citizens (and male immigrant non-citizens) between 18-25 years old.

・They must register within 30 days of their 18th birthday.

・Registration is required for various federal programs and benefits, including student loans, job training, federal employment and naturalization.

・The maximum penalty for not registering with the Selective Service is a felony with up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

・Selective Service registration was ended by President Ford in 1975.

・President Carter re-established Selective Service registration in 1980 in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

・In 1980, the National Organization of Women announced opposition to the draft, but stated that if there is a draft, NOW supports the inclusion of women on the same basis as men.

・The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1981’s Rostker v. Goldberg that requiring only men to register did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

・The issue was reviewed in 1994 by President Clinton’s Department of Defense, but as women were excluded by policy from front line combat positions, exclusion from draft registration was justified.

・In 2013, the Pentagon ended the policy of excluding women from combat positions.

・In 2013, the National Coalition for Men filed a suit challenging the legality of requiring only men to register for the draft.

・Also in 2013, a feminist writer by the name of Sylvia D. Lucas filed a petition to WhiteHouse.gov to include women in Selective Service registration.

Now the subject is back in the news, and this libertarian feminist certainly feels that this instance of gender equality means individuals being treated equally in the eyes of the law regardless of their gender. I think it’s perfectly valid to observe that women are the ones with the advantage in this situation (because the same sexism that “protects” women in this instance considers men to be disposable) and that liberty and equality will be achieved by striking down Selective Service registration entirely, not by equally oppressing women as much as men.

We have an all-volunteer military force, but there’s a constant, underlying threat — not from enemies outside, but from our own government, that our fathers, sons, brothers, husbands could be sent away to fight in a war against their will. That in the eyes of the state, they’re disposable.

The military could be considering advising Congress to change policy and include women in Selective Service registration, and hey, if there’s a registration, there’s no reason women shouldn’t be included as well: except the same reason men shouldn’t be.

Involuntary servitude is wrong. Even in the past 15 years of unconstitutional, unnecessary and ill-advised war actions by the leaders of this country, we have not needed a draft. There is no need to be registering any of our citizens in such a way. There is no moral justification whatsoever.

End Selective Service registration, don’t expand it.

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