Tell the Feds: End Draft Registration

February 23, 2018

This morning, in a small community college classroom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a newly formed federal commission  scheduled its first public hearing on the future of draft registration in the United States. “The bipartisan, 11-member Commission was created by Congress to review the military selective service process,” notes their press release. “The Commission hopes to ignite a national conversation about the importance of service as it develops recommendations for Congress, the President, and the American people by March 2020.”

In addition to eight more (yet to be scheduled) public hearings across the United States over the next two years, the commission has invited feedback via a webform at

Why is the government soliciting comments on what we think about the draft now?

We had draft registration resister Edward Hasbrouck on the Courage to Resist podcast this week to explain what’s going on. Also, here’s how he summarized the situation on his blog post at

In late 2015, Commander-In-Chief Obama ordered all military assignments opened to women. That order undercut, and probably eliminated, the legal argument that had been used since 1980 to justify requiring only men, but not women, to register for the draft.

That gave members of Congress three options, none of which most of them wanted to take responsibility for, in the run-up to the 2016 elections:

  1. Do nothing and wait for courts to invalidate the requirement for men to register for the draft;
  2. Repeal the requirement for men to register, and abolish the Selective Service System (and risk being attacked as peaceniks); or
  3. Extend the requirement to register for the draft to women as well as men (and risk being attacked by both feminists and sexists).

After elaborate bi-partisan machinations, Congress chose Door Number One (“Do Nothing”). Perhaps members of Congress thought that would allow them to point the finger of “blame” at the courts, and away from themselves, if draft registration was ended. More likely they just wanted to punt this political hot potato past the 2016 elections into the Clinton or Trump Administration.

To provide further political cover for delaying its decision, Congress voted in late 2016 to establish a National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service “to conduct a review of the military selective service process (commonly referred to as ‘the draft’).” The Commission is required to solicit and consider public comments, and to report back to the President and Congress with its recommendations by March 2020 (at which time its recommendations can either be ignored, used, or abused to score points in 2020 election campaigns).

“Despite some problems, this is by far your best and most open opportunity in decades to tell the Federal government to end draft registration,” explains Edward.