Patterico's Pontifications

11/21/2006

Is Conscription Slavery?

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Constitutional Law,Court Decisions,General,War — Patterico @ 6:53 am

Charlie Rangel is trying to reinstate the draft. But is the draft constitutional? A Second Hand Conjecture argues that it isn’t.

It’s not a frivolous argument. The Thirteenth Amendment says:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

As the linked blog post notes, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected the application of the Thirteenth Amendment to the draft — but the reasoning is less than stellar:

Finally, as we are unable to conceive upon what theory the exaction by government from the citizen of the performance of his supreme and noble duty of contributing to the defense of the rights and honor of the nation as the result of a war declared by the great representative body of the people can be said to be the imposition of involuntary servitude in violation of the prohibitions of the Thirteenth Amendment, we are constrained to the conclusion that the contention to that effect is refuted by its mere statement.

Translation: come on! The draft has gotta be constitutional!

It’s an interesting question. Is it reasonable to construe the language of the Thirteenth Amendment to prohibit other mandatory acts such as jury service or testimony in court? I think not.

On the other hand, those are fairly limited requirements. Military conscription imposes a much lengthier and more onerous obligation.

And I’m not one who believes in answering legal questions with non-arguments like “Come on! It has to be that way!” If you think the draft is necessary, but it’s unconstitutional, then pass an Amendment.

Ayn Rand thought the Thirteenth Amendment prohibited the draft. Was she right?

Is Charlie Rangel seeking to impose an unconstitutional form of slavery on the citizenry?

“The Last Man to Die for a Mistake”

Filed under: General,War — Patterico @ 6:40 am

Jules Crittenden wonders who might be the last man to die for a mistake in Iraq, in this column. Unless you are familiar with his writings, the nature of the “mistake” he’s discussing may surprise you. He elaborates in this blog post.


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