Future of Draft for Men and Women Goes to Court and Congress
By Edward Hasbrouck
On Friday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles that had dismissed the complaint in National Coalition for Men v. Selective Service System.
The Court of Appeals reinstated the complaint, and remanded the case to the U.S. District Court for consideration of the other issues in the case.
The next procedural step could be more written briefing on these issues, or a written scheduling order form the District Court, or an in-person or telephone “status conference” in Los Angeles, any of which could occur in a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
The most likely outcome of this and some other similar (although less far advanced) pending lawsuits is a court ruling that male-only draft registration in unconstitutional. Such a ruling would end draft registration, unless Congress changes the law.
The decision reinstating this case is likely to produce more pressure on Congress to take up the issue of draft registration sooner. Both major parties are internally divided on draft registration: it’s a “wedge issue” already within each party as well as potentially between the parties.
Bills to extend draft registration to women have been introduced by both Democrats (H.R. 1509) and Republicans (H.R. 4478), and questions about whether women should be required to register have been asked in both Democratic and Republican Presidential primary debates.
Some Republican candidates have said that draft registration should be extended to women, others that it should be retained for men only. As a member of the House in 1994, Bernie Sanders voted to end draft registration. But so far as I have been able to determine, neither Bernie Sanders nor Hillary Clinton has said what they would do about draft registration, [nor have they proposed what Congress should] do, if they are elected.
H.R. 4523, a bill to end draft registration entirely, abolish the Selective Service System, and repeal the Federal “Solomon Amendments” linking draft registration to Federal student aid, job training, and other programs has also been introduced in the House by a bipartisan group of sponsors. So far as I know, no Presidential candidate from either major party has endorsed H.R. 4523 or said that they would support ending draft registration. But this bill represents the best chance in more than 20 years to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System.
Please support H.R. 4523 to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System. Please also support continued resistance to draft registration, by men and women, as long as it remains the law.
Opinion by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:
Press release from the National Coalition for Men:
Details of H.R. 4523:
Petition in support of H.R. 4523:
Edward Hasbrouck wrote this piece for World Beyond War.