For Immediate Release
By Courage to Resist and the below listed organizations
During the recent escalation of tension between the U.S. and Iran, a flood of text messages appeared that claimed the military draft had been activated. The messages were fake, but they suddenly brought attention to the fact that a government agency, the Selective Service System, continues to maintain contingency plans for military conscription and demands that all men between the ages of 18 and 26 register for a possible future draft.
Now, with significant legal and legislative developments on the horizon, the future of the Selective Service System, draft registration, and the possibility of compulsory military or national service are about to be pushed to the forefront of public debate. In part, this is due to a 2019 federal court ruling that male-only draft registration is unconstitutional, which will force Congress to act to resolve the issue. Options that are likely to be considered include:
- Expanding the current draft registration system to include women as well as men.
- Completely terminating the draft registration requirement and, possibly, the Selective Service System itself.
- Suspending draft registration but maintaining Selective Service and standby contingency plans for a male and female draft (including plans to draft those with special skills wanted by the military in health care, computers, STEM, and foreign languages).
- Starting a new, possibly mandatory, national service program with both military and civilian components.
A number of important developments are about to occur that could affect the decision made by Congress:
- On March 4, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments in a government appeal of the decision by the federal judge who ruled that male-only draft registration is unconstitutional. Observers expect the ruling to be upheld by the appeals court, because changes in recent years now allow women to fill combat positions in the military.
- On March 25, policy recommendations will be given to Congress by the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service, which was commissioned by Congress to study future options for draft registration, plans and preparations for other forms of a draft (including a special-skills draft), and/or alternative national service programs.
- A bi-partisan bill (H.R. 5492) is now before Congress that would abolish the Selective Service System and, thus, put an end to draft registration. It would also terminate federal and state civil penalties that have been used to punish non-registrants (e.g., laws denying them student financial aid, drivers licenses, civil service jobs, and naturalized citizenship).
A network of feminist, anti-war, and anti-draft organizations has been working together to support H.R. 5492 and to oppose any draft or draft registration for men or women. They include:
Center on Conscience & War
Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft
Courage to Resist
On Earth Peace
Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild
National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy
Stop Recruiting Kids
Truth in Recruitment
War Resisters League
World Beyond War
More information is available at resisters.info and from the organizational contacts listed above.