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Women and the Draft

In the United States, every male 18 to 25 years of age is required to register for the Selective Service. In the event of a war, they are possibly subjected to involuntary military service, should the draft be reinstated. (I won't discuss whether the draft is essentially slavery, a violaiton of the Constitution.)

The draft generally works when the President and Congress (AKA the Bush's puppets) authorizes a draft because “a crisis occurs which requires more troops than the volunteer military can supply.” The draftees are chosen based on a lottery system, based on birthday. Ages 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and 25. They generally try not to call 18 and 19 year olds, though if it goes on long enough, it becomes necessary. (We can only kill so many early to mid 20 year olds, once you discount those who have enough influence (AKA money and connections) to someone get out of the draft.) Low lottery numbers are then ordered to report for a physical, mental and moral (??) evaluation to determine if they are fit, and if so, sent of to fight a war they don’t believe in in a place they don't want to be.

However, obviously females are not required (or allowed!) to register. The Selective Service law specifically refers to "male persons" in stating who must register and who would be drafted. Therefore, in order for women to be required to register with Selective Service, Congress would have to amend the law. (Don't hold your breath - I can't imagine that Bush, who refused to go himself, would be willing to send his draft age eligible daughters to war, so discount that idea from ever happening.)

What surprises me is that with all the rumors about whether the draft will be reinstated, no one has even really discussed who a potential draft would include, specifically, whether a draft will include females. And whether a draft could NOT include females in any way. In fact with all the draft talk, the subject of "females" is NEVER broached.

The Supreme Court, in Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57, 101 S.Ct. 2646, 69 L.Ed.2d 478 (1981) upheld the constitutionality of the draft as applying only to men. Essentially, the case held that women who were excluded from combat service by statute or military policy were not similarly situated to men for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft and therefore, Congress' decision to authorize registration of only men did not violate the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Simply stated, this decision says that since all men registered with the Selective Service are considered combat replacements, and since Congress forbids women to go into combat, women should not be registered. "If mobilization were to be ordered in a wartime scenario, the primary manpower need would be for combat replacements." Rostker, 456 U.S. at 76 (quoting S.Rep.No.96- 826, p. 160 (1980), U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1980, 2650). Since women as a group are not eligible for combat, women are not eligible for the draft. “The existence of the combat restrictions clearly indicates the basis for Congress' decision to exempt women from registration. The purpose of registration was to prepare for a draft of combat troops. Since women are excluded from combat, Congress concluded that they would not be needed in the event of a draft, and therefore decided not to register them.” Rostker, 456 U.S. at 77.

The Rostker logic is flawed on its face. Even accepting that outdated, skewed perception that women should not be in combat, Rostker presupposes that every man called for involuntary military service will be used for combat, and that no man called will be used for the approximately 90% of military jobs which are non-combat related. Therefore, even if the combat restrictions remained in place, you could still require women to register for the draft, and if their number was called, place them in non-combat related positions. See generally Royster, 456 U.S. at 83-84 (White & Brennan dissenting).

Second, the Nineteenth Amendment gives me the right to vote. If I happen to be pro-war, I could vote for pro-war candidates, knowing that, hey, I won’t have to be subject to any of their decisions. Is that fair to those who are subject to them? Should only males be permitted to vote then, just get rid of the Nineteenth Amendment altogether?

Next, ideally, women enjoy exactly the same civil rights as men. Therefore, exempting all females from even the possibility of involuntary military service in any capacity is equality, how again? Doesn’t the concept of “equal civil rights” somehow equate to equal civil responsibilities?

On a side note (like that's new for me!) I’ve read some polls that suggest that adults with children “well outside” the draft age or only female children, are much more in favor of the draft than those with male children within the draft age. I’m not surprised. It’s so much easier to be willing to “sacrifice” when you are not personally called upon to sacrifice, but merely volunteering others to sacrifice. (Bush - cough - Bush.) However, it is clear that the American public is not blind to gender. Sad or not, America is more willing to see her sons die in a war than her daughters. This may be the one true reason that the draft will not be reinstated - no politican wants to be the one who sends our girls out to fight and die in combat - talk about suicide.

Of course, that back door (slavery) draft will sure as hell continue...


  • At 3:25 AM, Blogger Shaula Evans said…

    Actually, there is a lot of information available on the likelihood (high) of a draft including women, and being extended up to age 35 for general draft and 44 for certain special skills--it just isn't a high profile or public discussion.

    Gosh. Wonder why.


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