Politics & Policy

Senator Mike Lee Pushes to Definitively Bar Women from the Draft

Sen. MIke Lee

As early as Thursday, Senator Mike Lee will drop in a new bill that would give Congress — not the president, not the Supreme Court — sole authority to decide whether women can register for the draft, pairing legislative text with the recent explosion in debate on the issue.

The exclusion of women from the draft is already law  – upheld by the Supreme Court in 1981 — but the rationale for the Court’s decision centered on the combat restrictions for women that existed at the time. Now that those restrictions have been lifted — Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the change in December — so too has the premise for current law.

The Utah senator seeks to preempt a scenario in which the Supreme Court takes up another challenge to the selective-service law and decides to “rewrite it like they did for Obamacare,” says Conn Carroll, a spokesman for Lee. He thinks it’s plausible the Court would reason that because women can now fight on the frontlines, “Congress must have meant drafting women would be ok, too.”

Lee’s bill would restate the ban on women registering for the draft, independent of combat policy, and clarify that only Congress has the authority to amend the statutory requirements of who must enroll in the draft, a nod to the Article I powers of which Lee has been an outspoken advocate.

“This debate and decision will have to be made by members of Congress, not less accountable political leaders at the Pentagon or Court justices,” Carroll says.

#share#Lee’s team began brainstorming legislation following a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week, where Army Chief of Staff Genenral Mark Milley and Marine Corps Commandant General Robert Neller made headlines for their assessments that it was time for women to register for the draft. “It’s my personal view . . . that every American physically qualified should register,” Neller said.

EDITORIAL: Only a Barbaric Nation Drafts Its Mothers and Daughters into Combat

That admission sparked a question on the issue from moderator Martha Raddatz during Saturday’s Republican debate in New Hampshire. Candidates were asked their thoughts on lifting the ban, and Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush all said they were in favor. As Christie put it, “There’s no reason why one young woman should be discriminated against for registering for the selective service.”

Ted Cruz, who didn’t weigh in during the debate, fired back the next day at a campaign rally in Peterborough, N.H. “The idea that we would draft our daughters to forcibly bring them into the military and put them in close combat, I think, is wrong. It is immoral,” he said. “And if I’m president, we ain’t doing it.”

RELATED: Republican Candidates Fall in Line with Social-Justice Warriors on Selective Service

Lee joined that growing chorus of conservative lawmakers opposed to lifting the ban, telling reporters in a statement: “I do not want to see my 15-year-old daughter drafted into the military.”

While all 18-to-25-year-old men are required to register for the draft, the U.S. has relied on an all-volunteer force since the close of the Vietnam War in 1973. 

Most Popular

Sports

It’s Time for Colin Kaepernick to Move On

Colin Kaepernick. Remember him? Below-average quarterback. Above-average poseur. Not “activist,” not really. Activists actually say stuff. Kaepernick almost never says anything. He’s like the Queen or most popes — you have to read the deep-background musings of supposed members of his inner circle to get ... Read More
U.S.

What The 1619 Project Leaves Out

“The goal of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from The New York Times that this issue of the magazine inaugurates, is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year,” The New York Times Magazine editors declare. “Doing so requires us to place ... Read More
Elections

Trump and the Black Vote

"Donald Trump is a racist, white supremacist, white nationalist. So are his supporters." Some version of that refrain is heard almost hourly somewhere in mainstream media. Democratic politicians seem to proclaim it more often than that. Listening only to the Left, you'd conclude that more than half a ... Read More
PC Culture

Courage Is the Cure for Political Correctness

This might come as some surprise to observers of our campus culture wars, but there was a time, not long ago, when the situation in American higher education was much worse. There a wave of vicious campus activism aimed at silencing heterodox speakers, and it was typically empowered by a comprehensive regime of ... Read More
U.S.

The Age of Miscalculation

On August 7, 1998, more than 200 people were killed in terrorist attacks on U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. Americans learned three names most of them never had heard before: Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden, and al-Qaeda. On August 20, 1998, President Bill Clinton ordered a ... Read More