Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday passed a language change in the $ 768 billion National defense authorization law (NDAA) that would expand “Selective Service,” the oxymoron name requirement in threat of imprisonment for 18-year-old males to submit their names to a national registry of potential military recruits, to include the female of the species.
As Ella Lubell noted here yesterday, among those who applauded this development is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), whose lawsuit challenging the men-only draft was denied a hearing last month by a Supreme Court that nonetheless , noted its potential interest in the event that Congress refused to change the law. “Exclusive male registration actually prevents women’s full participation in civic life,” the ACLU said. maintains.
That logic is worth dwelling on, particularly in light of what that “L” stands for. Is “participation” really the correct word to describe being coerced by the state to sign and mail a piece of paper for the purpose of speeding up any future government conscription of citizens in a fight to the death? Is mandatory self-assessment of a national list of people whose freedoms could potentially be usurped really characterized as a Liberty?
“That women register, and perhaps be summoned in case of recruitment, is a necessary prerequisite for them to achieve equality as citizens, as it has been for other historically discriminated groups in the history of the United States,” concluded the National Commission of Military, National and Public Service, in a March report heavily scented with anti-discrimination terminology.
This pain-sharing interpretation of “equality” is common, but fundamentally perverse. When evaluating unequal treatment under the law based on immutable characteristics, a first-order ranking question should be: Is this a legal inequality imposed by the government? chance, or from load? The first deserves to be revoked; the latter should be improved not by expansion but by elimination.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 it would not have been made more legally and morally acceptable by expanding the class of unwanted immigrants to other nationalities; instead, it was eventually repealed entirely by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II would not have been fairer if we had imprisoned more Americans with scripts derived from other nations allied to the Axis. Instead, we issued apologies and made repairs.
Those actions, which ruined lives, were explicitly discriminatory in intent and effect. Limiting Selective Service to men, on the other hand, is for most guys (though not me) a mild annoyance at worst, and if there is any divine discriminatory intent, it is, as the ACLU both state. like the National Commission, the old one. fashionable paternalistic notion that ladies are not strong enough to fight.
However the real The effect is discriminatory for young men who have to meet or face the (rare) threat of incarceration and fines, and the much more common blocked access to student loans, federal employment, and even driver’s licenses. Using the opportunity / burden test, the exclusion of qualified women (or gays or other groups that have been historically blocked) from the chance Serving in combat has been rightly nullified, but simply exposing them to the burdens of the recruit register should take us in the opposite direction: eliminate the burden on men.
Laws and other government initiatives that were less explicitly directed at outside groups, but were nonetheless discriminatory in application, have generally been rejected by the courts, rather than expanded to negatively impact a broader population. Most post-Civil War ballot taxes were silent on race (with the exception of literal “grandfather clauses,” which exempted descendants of former, by definition, white male voters from paying), although a century later both Congress and the Supreme Court recognized that both the intent and the effect were discriminatory to poor and black communities.
Closer to our era, New York City’s “Stop, Question, and Search” policy was deemed unconstitutional in 2013 due to its uneven application – about 90 percent of all applications – on minority residents. The solution was not to “fix” it by shaking the swell in Midtown and Wall Street, but simply to put an end to it altogether.
There’s a kissing cousin in the imperfect instinct to share the burden when it comes to criminal justice reform. Whenever a rich and / or white suspect or defendant is seen to have received less punitive treatment than that which happens to the poor and not-White, there are calls even from staunch criminal justice reformers to somehow equalize the punishment by brutalizing the privileged.
“For my friends from Georgia” tweeted previous Will and grace actress Debra Messing on December 24. On February 10, 2020, “Your next US Senators will decide the future of George Floyd’s Criminal Justice Reform Bill and John Lewis’ Voting Rights Act. Make Sure You VOTE.” Five days after brass tweeted to Donald Trump: “I hope you live a long life in prison where you become the most popular boyfriend of all prisoners.”
The solution to the uneven enforcement of, say, drug laws, on wealthy celebrities and homeless addicts, is to not make sure Lindsay Lohan He serves the maximum sentence each time, but to stop incarcerating adults for drug use, period. So it should be with that other anachronism of the twentieth century, military service.
If and when the Democratic-led Congress passes the NDAA that includes female recruits, and President Joe Biden enacts it, my daughters will not magically have more freedoms or experience less discrimination. It is discriminatory and, frankly, shameful for any mature country, let alone one dedicated to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” to treat any 18-year-old as a physical property of the state. The goal of policy should be equal opportunity, not equal poverty.