‘Selective Service Repeal Act’ Introduced in Congress

The Selective Service Repeal Act of 2021 (H.R. 2509 and S. 1139) was introduced in Congress on April 14th with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.

Initial co-sponsors of the bill to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System are Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

"No young person, regardless of gender, should be subject to a military draft or be forced to register for a draft in the United States. The military draft registration system is an unnecessary, wasteful bureaucracy which unconstitutionally violates Americans’ civil liberties. We should be abolishing military draft registration altogether, not expanding it," said Rep. DeFazio.

"If a war is worth fighting, Congress will vote to declare it and people will volunteer," said Sen. Paul.

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Opponents of Military Conscription Call for ‘Full and Fair’ Hearing Before Congress Decides Whether To Expand Selective Service to Women – or To End It

As Doug Bandow reported on Antiwar.com Wednesday, military conscription is a bad idea that just won’t die – and right now it’s under active consideration in Congress.

Two years ago, Doug Bandow and I were both invited to testify before the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS), which was appointed to study (and give Congress political cover for its decision on) whether to finally end Selective Service registration after forty years of failure, or to try to get women as well as men to sign up to for a draft "just in case" the government wants to fight so large, so many, so prolonged, or so unpopular wars that it can’t recruit enough volunteers.

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Supreme Court Asked To Review Constitutionality of Current Male-Only Draft Registration Requirement

Today the National Coalition For Men, a men’s rights organization represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Constitutionality – now that women are allowed in all military combat assignments – of the law which requires men but not women to register with the Selective Service System for a possible military draft.

I’ve been tracking this case up and down through the lower courts since 2015, and I attended the oral argument last year before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that led to the ruling that the Supreme Court is now being asked to review. Today’s filing of a petition for certiorari is no surprise. But for those who haven’t been following the issue closely, it raises questions about the seeming strange bedfellows – a women’s rights project defending a “men’s rights” group and its members? – and the future of Selective Service registration.

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Good News and Bad News for the Military Draft in 2021

Applicants for Federal financial aid for higher education will no longer be required to have registered with the Selective Service System for a possible military draft or answer questions about their Selective Service registration status or compliance.

Among the provisions included in the 2000+ page coronavirus pandemic relief and Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was signed into law by President Trump on Sunday, is a section (Title VII, Section 701 et seq.) which effectively repeals the 1982 "Solomon Amendment" that has required men to have registered for the draft in order to be eligible for Federal student grants or loans. The new law also requires the Department of Education to remove the questions about Selective Service registration from the FAFSA student aid application form.

This section of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act” is one of many entirely unrelated sections, most of which had been pending in Congress as separate bills but had not been acted on, that were tacked onto the “must-pass” pandemic relief and government funding bill in last-minute, closed-door wheeling and dealing by Congressional leaders.

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Draft Registration on Track for 2021 Debate in Congress and Supreme Court

The military draft is still on the back burner. But the issue – and specifically whether to (finally) end draft registration or try to expand it to young women as well as young men – is on track to be debated in Congress and quite possibly the Supreme Court in 2021.

Here’s some of what’s happened recently:

A new documentary film about draft resistance during the U.S. war in Indochina, The Boys Who Said No, opens today online, with streaming throughout the US The film features archival footage of, and recent interviews with, David Harris, Muhammad Ali, Joan Baez, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others whose names are less well known but whose actions were and are no less significant. Showings and discussions about the film are a great opportunity to let people know that the draft is still an issue today.

In an interview with a an organization of military officers, Presidential candidate Joe Biden has announced that he supports expanding the Selective Service registration requirement to women.

The deadline for an appeal to the Supreme Court of the decision on the Constitutionality of requiring men but not women to register for the draft is January 11, 2021. The plaintiffs are still deciding whether to appeal, but there’s a good chance the Supreme Court would decide to hear the case, putting more pressure on Congress to consider the issue.

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Court of Appeals Overturns Ruling That Male-Only Draft Registration Requirement Is Unconstitutional

Thursday a 3-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued a decision overturning an earlier ruling by a U.S. District Court in Houston that the current Federal law requiring men but not women to register with the Selective Service System for a possible military draft is unconstitutional:

Significantly, and contrary to some of the early reports on today’s decision, the Court of Appeals did not find that the current male-only draft registration requirement is Constitutional. The Court of Appeals did not reach that question. The Court of Appeals ruled that because the Supreme Court ruled on this question in 1981 in the case of Rostker v. Goldberg, only the Supreme Court could reconsider or reverse that decision, even if the facts on which that decision was based (the exclusion of women from military combat assignments, which ended in 2015) have changed.

The Court of Appeals reversed the District Court’s decision solely on the basis that neither the District Court nor the Court of Appeals has the authority to overturn Supreme Court precedent, and that finding that the facts are different today than in 1981 would amount to overturning the Supreme Court’s legal findings.

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