The Draft and the Constitution

June 18, 2008

Is the concept of a military draft a threat to the Constitution of the United States? I believe that it is, and I will endeavor to explain my reasoning.

The first point that I will make is that members of the armed forces are not given constitutional protection. The military system has its own system of law enforcement, and so a member of the military does not have access to the courts the same way that a civilian might. Members of the military are prevented from speaking out against the president, and thus do not have the freedom of speech that a civilian does. I have heard of troops in Iraq being banned from taking Bibles into the country; thus freedom of religion is stifled for military personnel too. In this way and in many others that you may conjure to mind, those in the military are not under the aegis of the Constitution as civilians are.

The next point is that drafted military personnel are in the military against their will. That is, of course, part of the definition of the draft. They are also not in the military on account of any crime which they have commit, or because they have violated any law. Thus, the draft seizes people who have not willfully signed up to be in the military, and who have not violated the law.

Therefore, the military draft is the process of removing constitutional protections from people against their will and despite their obeying the law. The protections of the Constitution should not be able to removed so capriciously as they are. And certainly law-abiding citizens should not fear that their constitutional rights may be snatched away from them at the government's whim.

In the absolute worst case, the government could in theory declare that everyone has been drafted into the military, and therefore constitutional protections do not apply to anyone anymore.

You might say that the military does not have a draft. But men are still required to fill out selective service cards, and it is not so long ago that there was a draft. The practice is still viewed by nearly everyone as perfectly legal despite its violation of the Constitution. And you might make a point of the military necessity of a draft. But then I'd ask you just how necessary any conflict has been in the past sixty years.