Conservatives blast proposal that would require women to register for the draft


Conservatives have blasted a new proposal that would require women to register for the draft for the first time ever beginning next fiscal year.

A provision in the Senate National Defense Authorization Act which was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday forces women between the ages of 18 and 25 to sign up with the Selective Service, as men are required to do.

The NDAA was overwhelmingly approved by the committee by a 23-3 vote, with most Democrats and Republicans supporting the proposal.

The three dissenters were GOP Senators Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley and Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat.

Cotton’s ‘no’ vote was surprising given that the former Iraq War veteran is considered a hawk on defense issues.

‘Our military has welcomed women for decades and are stronger for it,’ the Arkansas senator wrote.

The image above shows United States Marine Corps recruits from Lima Company, the first gender integrated training class in San Diego, climb through mud during training at Camp Pendleton in April 2021. A Senate bill could require women to register with the Selective Service, making them eligible to be drafted

Senator Tom Cotton

Senator Josh Hawley

Senators Tom Cotton (left) and Josh Hawley (right) have come out against the proposal, which was approved on Wednesday by the Senate Armed Services Committee

¿Our military has welcomed women for decades and are stronger for it,¿ the Arkansas senator wrote. ¿But America¿s daughters shouldn¿t be drafted against their will.'

‘Our military has welcomed women for decades and are stronger for it,’ the Arkansas senator wrote. ‘But America’s daughters shouldn’t be drafted against their will.’

Hawley on Friday explained his decision to oppose the measure in a tweet

Hawley on Friday explained his decision to oppose the measure in a tweet

'It's one thing to allow American women to choose this service, but it's quite another to force it upon our daughters, sisters, and wives,' Hawley tweeted

‘It’s one thing to allow American women to choose this service, but it’s quite another to force it upon our daughters, sisters, and wives,’ Hawley tweeted 

‘But America’s daughters shouldn’t be drafted against their will.

‘I opposed this amendment in committee, and I’ll work to remove it before the defense bill passes.’

Hawley, the Republican from Missouri, tweeted on Friday: ‘I voted against forcing women to enter the draft, and here’s why.’

‘American women have heroically served in and alongside our fighting forces since our nation’s founding.

‘It’s one thing to allow American women to choose this service, but it’s quite another to force it upon our daughters, sisters, and wives.

‘Missourians feel strongly that compelling women to fight our wars is wrong and so do I.’

Other Republicans on the panel who opposed the provision about women being drafted include Senator James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking member of the committee; Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi; and Senate Mike Rounds of South Dakota, according to Roll Call.

‘I support our military’s efforts to offer more opportunities for women who want to volunteer to serve,’ Wicker told Roll Call in a statement.

‘But when I think of my own daughters and granddaughters, I could not in good conscience support an amendment that would compel their military service.’

On Twitter, conservatives expressed their opposition to the provision.

‘If you need a draft, it should be only men,’ tweeted House Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican who in an earlier tweet said that the proposal was a ‘non-starter’ and that passing it would bring ‘all out political war.’

Chris Loesch tweeted: ‘I have said a voluntary military is much better prepared to fight than a coerced one but I also believe that if a time came for our nation to defend itself from a great evil, like Hitler and the Nazis then it should be men and not women.’ 

'If you need a draft, it should be only men,' tweeted House Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican who in an earlier tweet said that the proposal was a 'non-starter' and that passing it would bring 'all out political war.'

‘If you need a draft, it should be only men,’ tweeted House Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican who in an earlier tweet said that the proposal was a ‘non-starter’ and that passing it would bring ‘all out political war.’

Russ Vought tweeted: 'No. You are not drafting our daughters.'

Russ Vought tweeted: ‘No. You are not drafting our daughters.’

Chris Loesch tweeted: 'I have said a voluntary military is much better prepared to fight than a coerced one but I also believe that if a time came for our nation to defend itself from a great evil, like Hitler and the Nazis then it should be men and not women.'

Chris Loesch tweeted: ‘I have said a voluntary military is much better prepared to fight than a coerced one but I also believe that if a time came for our nation to defend itself from a great evil, like Hitler and the Nazis then it should be men and not women.’

Jesse Kelly, a prominent conservative media personality, tweeted: 'Women shouldn¿t be part of the draft. They shouldn¿t be part of any combat unit. They shouldn¿t be on Naval vessels. I don¿t have to prove to you why they shouldn¿t. It¿s the military. It¿s life or death. YOU have to prove to ME why a country with 150 million men needs women.'

Jesse Kelly, a prominent conservative media personality, tweeted: ‘Women shouldn’t be part of the draft. They shouldn’t be part of any combat unit. They shouldn’t be on Naval vessels. I don’t have to prove to you why they shouldn’t. It’s the military. It’s life or death. YOU have to prove to ME why a country with 150 million men needs women.’

Gretchen Smith, a female veteran, responded to Kelly, tweeting: 'I served. I disagree. Best decision I ever made. If I can do it, any woman can do it. If women want equal rights, this is it. No complaints'

Gretchen Smith, a female veteran, responded to Kelly, tweeting: ‘I served. I disagree. Best decision I ever made. If I can do it, any woman can do it. If women want equal rights, this is it. No complaints’

Russ Vought tweeted: ‘No. You are not drafting our daughters.’ 

Jesse Kelly, a prominent conservative media personality, tweeted: ‘Women shouldn’t be part of the draft. They shouldn’t be part of any combat unit. 

‘They shouldn’t be on Naval vessels. I don’t have to prove to you why they shouldn’t.

‘It’s the military. It’s life or death. 

‘YOU have to prove to ME why a country with 150 million men needs women.’ 

Gretchen Smith, a female veteran, responded to Kelly, tweeting: ‘I served. I disagree.

‘Best decision I ever made. If I can do it, any woman can do it. 

‘If women want equal rights, this is it. 

‘No complaints.’

The Selective Service is a federal agency that maintains a nationwide registry of all men who are eligible for military conscription in the event of a national emergency.

Men who fail to register with the Selective Service System at their 18th birthday can be denied public benefits such as federal employment and student loans.

Failing to register is also a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.

However, women cannot register for Selective Service.

The last time there was a draft was during the Vietnam War, and the military has been all-volunteer since.

But the registration requirement is one of the few remaining places where federal law treats men and women differently, and women’s groups are among those arguing that allowing it to stand is harmful.

Even though both parties have overwhelmingly supported requiring women to register with the Selective Service, repeated attempts at enacting the reform have failed.

Last month, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether it’s sex discrimination for the government to require only men to register for the draft when they turn 18.

Ria Tabacco Mar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, who is urging the court to take up the issue, says requiring men to register imposes a ‘serious burden on men that’s not being imposed on women.’

Tabacco Mar said that the current law sends a ‘tremendously harmful message that women are less fit than men to serve their country in this particular way and conversely that men are less fit than women to stay home as caregivers in the event of an armed conflict.’

‘We think those stereotypes demean both men and women,’ she said.

Even if the draft is never used again, retaining the men-only requirement sends a ‘really damaging message,’ said Tabacco Mar, who represents the National Coalition For Men and two individual men challenging the law

Others on Twitter argued that the government should do away with the draft entirely

Others on Twitter argued that the government should do away with the draft entirely

A group of retired senior military officers and the National Organization for Women Foundation are among the others urging the court to take the case.

If the court agrees to hear the case, it wouldn’t be deciding whether women have to register, just whether the current system is constitutional.

If it isn’t, then it would then be up to Congress to decide how to respond, either by passing a law requiring everyone to register or deciding registration is no longer necessary.

The issue of who has to register for the draft has been to the court before.

In 1981, the court voted 6-3 to uphold the men-only registration requirement.

At the time, the decision was something of an outlier because the court was regularly invalidating gender-based distinctions in cases about other areas of the law.

Many of those cases were brought by the founding director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who became a justice in 1993.

The last time the high court considered the Military Selective Service Act, then-Justice William Rehnquist explained that the purpose of registration ‘was to prepare for a draft of combat troops.’

He said that because women could not serve in combat, the law was not unlawful sex discrimination that violated the Constitution.

But military policy has changed. In 2013, the Department of Defense lifted the ban on women serving in combat.

In 2015, the military lifted its ban on females serving in combat roles and women's groups have been urging Congress to change the law. The image above shows women recruits in the United States Marine Corps

In 2015, the military lifted its ban on females serving in combat roles and women’s groups have been urging Congress to change the law. The image above shows women recruits in the United States Marine Corps

Two years later, the department said all military roles would be open to women without exception.

Just last year, a congressional commission concluded that the ‘time is right’ to extend the obligation to register to women.

‘The current disparate treatment of women unacceptably excludes women from a fundamental civic obligation and reinforces gender stereotypes about the role of women, undermining national security,’ the commission said in a report.

The Biden administration is urging the justices not to take the case and to let Congress instead tackle the issue.

Administration lawyers wrote in a brief that any ‘reconsideration of the constitutionality of the male-only registration requirement … would be premature at this time’ because Congress is ‘actively considering’ the issue.

The Selective Service System, the agency that oversees registration, said in a statement that it doesn’t comment on pending litigation but that it is ‘capable of performing whatever mission Congress should mandate.’

If the court agrees to take the case, arguments wouldn’t happen until the fall at the earliest, after the court’s summer break.

The court already has high-profile cases awaiting it then. They include a major challenge to abortion rights and an appeal to expand gun rights.



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