16/04.2021 / Edward Hasbrouck / Antiwar.com - The Selective Service Repeal Act of 2021 (H.R. 2509 and S. 1139) was introduced in Congress on April 14th 2021 with bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.
Initial co-sponsors of the bill to end draft registration and abolish the Selective Service System are Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
"No young person, regardless of gender, should be subject to a military draft or be forced to register for a draft in the United States. The military draft registration system is an unnecessary, wasteful bureaucracy which unconstitutionally violates Americans’ civil liberties. We should be abolishing military draft registration altogether, not expanding it," said Rep. DeFazio.
"If a war is worth fighting, Congress will vote to declare it and people will volunteer," said Sen. Paul.
Other cosponsors of the bill include Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). Residents of the District of Colombia, Puerto Rico, and other U.S. territories are subject to the military draft, but have no voting representation in Congress, only nonvoting "Delegates" to the House of Representatives.
The Selective Service Repeal Act would:
- Repeal the Military Selective Service Act, in its entirety;
- Repeal Presidential authority to order registration for a military draft;
- Abolish the Selective Service System, including the data center, national and regional offices, and local draft boards that have been appointed and trained for every country in the US (the list of all draft board members has recently been released and posted online for the first time);
- Repeal all Federal sanctions for not having registered with the Selective Service System; and
- Preempt all state sanctions for not having registered with the Selective Service System.
The same day the Selective Service Repeal Act was introduced in Congress, the Biden Administration filed its brief in the Supreme Court asking the court not to consider a case challenging the Constitutionality of the current Selective Service registration requirement. The Supreme Court’s decision on whether to hear this case is expected to be made in May or June. If the Supreme Court takes the case, it will be argued in the fall. The administration’s argument against Supreme Court review is based primarily on judicial "deference" to political and military decisions. But we need more judicial oversight, not less, over decisions to wage endless, unlimited, undeclared wars.
The administration’s brief to the Supreme Court mentions the possibility that Congress might try to expand draft registration to women, but ignores the possibility that Congress might end draft registration. Either or both options could be considered as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022, consideration of which will begin shortly in the House and Senate Armed Service Committees. The future of Selective Service registration deserves full hearings and public debate, not just a fast-track decision in closed-door markup sessions, as part of that process.
The Selective Service Repeal Act has already been endorsed by organizations including the Center on Conscience & War, World BEYOND War, RootsAction.org, CODEPINK, Truth in Recruitment, the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Just Foreign Policy, Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD), Pax Christi USA, Courage to Resist, Peace Action, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and Antiwar.com. More organizations are expected to join in support of this bill.
World BEYOND War and CODEPINK have both set up web forms you can use to email your US Representative and Senators. Urge them to co-sponsor the Selective Service Repeal Act (H.R. 2509 and S. 1139) and ask the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to hold full and fair hearings that hear from anti-war and anti-draft witnesses, and to act promptly on this bill.
Edward Hasbrouck maintains the Resisters.info website and publishes the "Resistance News" newsletter. He was imprisoned in 1983-1984 for organizing resistance to draft registration.