On Tuesday, the Senate voted to force American women, in their early years, to register for the draft.
Just like men have been required to do since 1980.
The White House threatens to veto the bill, though perhaps on other grounds, since the bill also, in the words of Richard Lardner (AP), “authorizes $602 billion in military spending, bars shuttering the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and denies the Pentagon’s bid to start a new round of military base closings.”
The Senate’s social conservative ranks made the whole process leading up to the vote difficult for the mainliners, like Sen. John “Maverick” McCain, who is enthusiastic about registering women. Sen. Ted Cruz expressed alarm at the direction “sexual equality” is taking, and didn’t want to see “girls drafted onto the front lines.”
Decades ago, the Supreme Court had nixed a challenge to draft registration on discrimination lines, reasoning that since women weren’t allowed onto the front lines, there was no cause to force them to register for military conscription.
But now there are women in combat positions. So the old ruling no longer applies. If draft registration isn’t expanded to women, it’s likely to be struck down for men.
We have no draft, we are reminded, mere registration — which our government keeps in place mainly to remind men that they may be drafted.
In the House version of the bill, there’s no draft registration amendment. So there will be negotiations. Maybe a compromise can be reached where neither young men nor women face a military draft* or, likewise, signing up for one.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* For more on why to oppose the draft, see my essay “The Draft Is Slavery” in J. Neil Schulman, The Rainbow Cadenza, pulpless.com edition (1999).