“Despite the all-volunteer military, men in the U.S. still have to register for the draft when they turn 18. But the fairness of the system, and its very existence, are again being questioned.” David Welna, National Public Radio, Washington DC.
On April 24 and 25, 2019, a group of witnesses testified in favor of ending draft registration included Ari Standish and Callum Standish from Berkeley Friends Meeting; Kate Connell from Truth in Recruitment and the Santa Barbara Friends Meeting; Paul Jacob (one of the 20 nonregistrants who were prosecuted in the 1980s before the Justice Department realized that show trials of activists were encouraging more resistance), Center on Conscience and War Executive Director Maria Santelli, Counseling Director Bill Galvin, and staff attorney Iman Hassan; Chris Kearns-McCoy of Friends Committee on National Legislation; Kindra Bradley, Executive Director of Quaker House; and others including men who have not registered when they were supposed to do so. The Thursday morning panel, which included Diane Randall of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and Edward Hasbrouck, who was imprisoned for refusing to register for the draft, was the first time in almost forty years that draft resisters or conscientious objectors have been invited to tell Congress or a Federal commission, in public, what we think should be done about draft registration. More testimony in support of ending draft registration rather than trying to expand it to women was offered during the public comment periods following questioning of each of the panels of invited witnesses during the two days of hearings this week.
“This was the first time that members of the NCMNPS had been confronted, face to face, by young people who they would have to prosecute if they tried to enforce the current draft registration requirement or expand it to young women as well as young men. The report of the NCMNPS, including a yes-or-no recommendation on whether draft registration should be continued (and if so, a separate yes-or-no recommendation on whether it should be extended to young women as well as young men) is due in March 2020. Congress will probably take up the issue in 2021, after the 2020 elections and after the government has exhausted its appeals of the court ruling that the current registration requirement for men is unconstitutional.
Although it wasn’t made public until after the hearings, the NCMNPS
received a letter earlier in April 2019 from Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who was one of the sponsors of a bill introduced in 2016 to repeal authority
for draft registration. “I strongly urge members of this Commission to
recommend disbanding the SSS altogether,” Rep. DeFazio wrote. The only
other official submission to the NCMNPS from a member of Congress
disclosed to date is from Re. Gwen Moore (D-WI), the sponsor of a bill
introduced in 2017 to require the Selective Service System to allow
registrants to indicate, at the time of registration, their intent to seek
classification as conscientious objectors if and when they are ordered to
report for induction into the military.
Most of this blog originates from a report by Edward Hasbrouck.