Senate Considers Requiring Women To Register for the Draft

A proposal obtained by Politico would get rid of male-only language in an upcoming military service bill.


Senate Democrats have legislation in the works that would require women to register for the draft, according to a report from Politico.

The publication obtained a draft of the National Defense Authorization Act written by Senate Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D–R.I.) that would expand the Selective Service System—a national database that contains the names and information of potential draftees—to include women. Currently, only men are required by federal law to register for the Selective Service System, but Politico reports that Reed's proposed language would replace all references to men with "all Americans." 

The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service issued a report in March recommending that Congress "eliminate male-only registration and expand draft eligibility to all individuals of the appropriate age cohort," because "expanding draft eligibility to women will enable the military to access the most qualified individuals, regardless of sex." Women have been eligible to occupy all combat roles since 2015. 

Last month, the Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the male-only draft filed by the National Coalition for Men alongside the American Civil Liberties Union. 

"Like many laws that appear to benefit women, men-only registration actually impedes women's full participation in civic life," says the ACLU on its website. "Limiting registration to men sends a message that women are unqualified to serve in the military, regardless of individual capabilities and preferences. It reflects an outmoded view that, in the event of a draft, women's primary duty would be to the home front—and, on the flip side, that men are unqualified to be caregivers." 

As libertarian writers have pointed out in response to the commission report and the aforementioned lawsuit, getting rid of the draft altogether is far more preferable to conscripting women. Just because men between the ages of 18 to 35 are required to sign up for possible forced labor—at the threat of a $250,000 fine and a 5-year prison sentence—doesn't mean that women should be roped in as well. As Sheldon Richman said, we should end, not extend, the draft. 

If Democrats are considering making changes to the draft, they should not exchange women's liberty for gender equality. Rather, they should extend to men the privilege that women already enjoy.