Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Should women have to register with Selective Service? Senate Arms Services Committee pulls a surprise and takes up the question

The Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony about whether women should be required to register for Selective Service, according to a surprising story in the Washington Post Wednesday, February 3, 2016, on p. A3, by Dan LaMothe.   The hearing was reportedly motivated by Ashton Carter’s opening of all military jobs, even in the Marine Corps, to women who are individually qualified.  The reporter also has several other Post stories on female job performance in the military.

Army and Marine Corps chiefs supported the idea of female registration at the hearings.  For a brief period, the Marine Corps actually drafted men during the Vietnam war, but most of the draftees served in the Army.

But another concern is obviously how likely is it that Congress would ever re-authorize a draft again.  On Nov. 11 on this blog, I wrote a column asking if the Selective Service System is still needed.  And on my LGBT blog on Nov. 10, I took up the question of registration of transgender people. Maybe I gave people some ideas.  I hope so.

Registration of women would certainly re-ignite some “culture war” debates in a presidential election year.   But conservatives would face, even within their own ranks, the libertarian idea that the draft leads to involuntary servitude and should no longer be on the table.

Conscription could have influenced the debate on gays in the military until “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was finally repealed in 2011.

Israel requires women to serve as conscripts.

In 1981, the Supreme Court, in the ironic case "Rostker v. Goldberg" upheld the constitutionality of the male-only conscription exposure through Selective Service.  But it might hold differently now.

Update:  February 6, 2016

Christopher Preble, from the Cato Institute, replies that it is time to end Selective Service now. So does a Washington Post editorial.

Update: February 8, 2016

Michael E.. Schmidt writes in the New York Times, on p. A10 Monday, "Draft registration of women would stir a sleepy government agency" in Arlington VA.  Selective Service does contingent lottery drawings regularly, on the legal theory that Congress can re-authorize a draft at any time. The agency has asked what it would take to register women, and has said it would need more budget and employees.  Some in Congress reject the idea of registering women on "old fashioned" ideas that contradict today's focus on equality, but then the question is, should the U.S. keep Selective Service at all?  I say, get rid of it. You can save some money.

Last picture: Fort Jackson SC Basic Combat Training Museum (p.d.)

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