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Gus Van Horn blog

Reblogged:Time to End Draft Registration

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At the Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin comments on a widely-reported court decision against male-only draft registration. After his legal analysis of the decision, Somin considers its potential wider implications and weighs in:

JimmyCarterPortrait2.jpg
He didn't just support rationing. He reinstated draft registration. (Image via Wikipedia (public domain).)
But, assuming it is not overturned on appeal, other plaintiffs can likely use this ruling to secure a more general decision against the male-only draft. When and if that happens, the courts could potentially issue an injunction ordering either the extension of draft registration to women or its abolition for men. I believe the latter is the more likely outcome, since it would impose far less of a burden on both the government and private individuals. Either way, the ultimate choice between the two remedies would be in the hands of Congress, which can enact a new law embodying either of them.

In my view, by far the best option is to abolish mandatory draft registration for both sexes. That would simultaneously promote both liberty and equality. It would end one of the last examples of open sex-discrimination in federal government policy, while also freeing both men and women from the threat of forced labor. [link in original, bold added]
As an opponent of conscription, I agree, and find this an opportune time to quote Ayn Rand on the draft:
Of all the statist violations of individual rights in a mixed economy, the military draft is the worst. It is an abrogation of rights. It negates man's fundamental right -- the right to life -- and establishes the fundamental principle of statism: that a man's life belongs to the state, and the state may claim it by compelling him to sacrifice it in battle. Once that principle is accepted, the rest is only a matter of time.
The above also applies to such terrible ideas as "national service," which I am glad to see that Somin also opposes. He ends his blog post by noting that he recently testified before the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service.

In light of the above, it is disturbing to learn -- after our nation's struggles to throw off the yoke of tyranny and to end slavery -- that even as we might be on the cusp of ending draft registration, our government is actively toying with the idea of a program of state-sponsored involuntary servitude.

-- CAV

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Yes, forced civilian servitude is as bad as you say, but I don't see any evidence that it's in the offing. The proposal has been knocking around since the Theodore Roosevelt / Woodrow Wilson era, never quite dying but never taking wing either.

It had a moment in the years after  WW2. Ike instructed his troops to write home supporting the idea, telling them that they would get home sooner if new conscripts replaced them. James Conant, the president of Harvard, talked the proposal up in Look in 1950. His version, like so many, gave people a choice between military and not. It was urgent, he said, because by 1954 the USSR would have bombers capable of reaching New York. Like the Soviet bombing of New York, it didn't happen.

It had another moment during the Vietnam war. Robert McNamara, Johnson's Secretary of Defense, floated the idea. Again it didn't happen. The draft (military or civilian) and wage-price controls are two policies that are gone for good.

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