Thursday, July 30, 2009

Should Selective Service itself allow exclusion for conscientious objection? Remembering the draft boards of the 1960s


A Quaker (Tobin D. Jacobrown, 21), in Washington State has filed suit against the federal government claiming that the Selective Service System provides no way for him to declare himself a conscientious objector. The Washington Post story (July 30) is by Del Quentin Wilber with link here.

The government maintains that the proper forum for conscientious objection is before a draft board, if Congress ever reinstated the draft. The government maintains that no fundamental rights are violated just by the selective service male registration process itself for men 18 to 25. Men are not drafted now, but could be if Congress wanted to reinstate the draft, as was suggested by Charles Moskos, Carl Levin and others after 9/11. Others propose compulsory national service regardless of gender, and the president wants strong carrots for service, but no sticks.

Wikipedia calls conscription (link) a general term for involuntary labor demanded by an established authority”.

In June 1981 the Supreme Court, in Rostker v Goldberg (reference), ruled that the male-only draft had been constitutional, and that presumably male-only registration is constitutional. Nevertheless, the idea that the government can compel specific involuntary duties of citizens based on biological gender goes against the current of notions of diversity and equality in modern society.

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