Although the word slavery does not appear in the body of the Constitution, the “peculiar institution” is alluded to in Article I, sections 2 and 9, and Article 4, section 2. This changed with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution:
Section 1. 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.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Thirteenth Amendment was passed by the Senate in April of 1864 and by the House in January of 1865. It was ratified by the necessary number of states in December of 1865.
Although the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, it does not apply to the U.S. government.
The United States declared war on Germany in April of 1917 and declared war on Austria-Hungary in December of 1917. The Selective Service Act of 1917 (enacted in May of 1917) required all males aged 21 to 30 to register with the government in case they were “needed” for military service. The age range was expanded in 1918 to all men aged 18 to 45. Almost three million American men were conscripted into the military by the U.S. government during World War I; that is, they were forced to destroy, maim, and kill for the U.S. government in an unjust foreign war that the United States had no business getting involved in.
In the Selective Draft Law Cases (1918), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that military conscription did not amount to involuntary servitude. Said the Court’s unanimous decision:
Compelled military service is neither repugnant to a free government nor in conflict with the constitutional guaranties of individual liberty. Indeed, it may not be doubted that the very conception of a just government and its duty to the citizen includes the duty of the citizen to render military service in case of need, and the right of the government to compel it.
In Lichter v. United States (1948), the Court declared that “the constitutionality of the conscription of manpower for military service is beyond question.”
The draft ended in 1920 only to be revived again during World War II. Although conscription officially ended in 1973, the U.S. government could re-institute it. The Selective Service System (SSS) is the government agency tasked with registering “every male citizen of the United States, and every other male person residing in the United States” who is between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six.”
For more than a year now, a bipartisan, eleven-member congressional commission has been trying to answer the question of whether females should be required to register with the Selective Service. The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service recently held a public meeting and issued an interim report.
According to the report, the commission is considering ways to implement universal service, such as:
- Commit enough resources so that any American with a desire can perform service;
- Establish a norm for every American to devote at least a full year to either military, national, or public service; and
- Require all Americans to serve, with a choice in how to satisfy the requirement.
With respect to the Selective Service System, the commission is considering options that could:
- Expand the registration requirement for the Selective Service System to include women;
- Identify individuals who possess critical skills the nation might need;
- Call for volunteers during times of emergency using the existing system; and
- Incorporate reasonable changes to identify, evaluate, and protect those who object to military service, but are otherwise willing to serve.
A final report will be issued by March 2020. It will include “policy recommendations and legislative proposals regarding the military selective service process and ways to increase participation in military, national, and public service.”
The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service should be called the Slavery Commission. Requiring Americans to perform public service or serve in the military is akin to slavery no matter what the Supreme Court says. Forcing someone to work in a particular occupation—even if you pay him—is wrong, even when the government does it.
Americans don’t need to ask what they can do for their country because they don’t owe their government anything. How could Americans possibly owe anything to a government that robs them of their income and wealth, fines and imprisons them for committing victimless crimes, spies on them, regulates every area of their lives, and violates their natural rights and civil liberties?
Governments that force their citizens to take up arms against the citizens of other countries do so for one reason: they are engaging in unjust and immoral wars. Waging war in the actual defense of ones country, home, property, and family does not require conscription. If a foreign army landed on the east or west coast of the United States, the government wouldn’t have to conscript a single American to repel a threat or invasion. Americans would flock to the coasts, and use their own guns and ammo.
Conscription and national service are things that all patriotic Americans should abhor because, as former congressman Ron Paul has well said: “A government that is willing to enslave some of its people can never be trusted to protect the liberties of its own citizens.”
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