Should women be drafted?
If women are going to be placed in combat, shouldn't they have to sign up with the Selective Service Administration and be eligible for a draft if one is ever called for?
Charlie Rangel says yes:
"Now that women can serve in combat they should register for the Selective Service alongside their male counterparts," Rangel said in a statement. "Reinstating the draft and requiring women to register for the Selective Service would compel the American public to have a stake in the wars we fight as a nation. We must question why and how we go to war, and who decides to send our men and women into harm's way."
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed an order rescinding the ban on women serving in combat units last month, potentially opening up as many as 237,000 positions to female service members.
The move raised a number of policy issues, including whether women will now be required to register with the Selective Service. The Pentagon is required to report on how changing the ban effects the constitutionality of the registration being males only.
In an interview on MSNBC, Rangel said the draft should be reinstated because the majority of Americans make "no real sacrifice" when the country goes to war.
"The Congress never gets a chance to vote up and down on these war questions. Every president just puts our kids in harm's way and we just foot the bill, but there's no real sacrifice in what's going on. Less than 1 percent of American families are involved in the military and they really pay the price for it," he said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
He argued that a draft would make the executive branch think long and hard before sending troops overseas.
One would think that the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment would require women who will be taking the same risks as men on the battlefield, to register. But unlike men, women's roles in combat would be somewhat limited and carefully defined. It's not at all clear that all women will be eligible for combat in the first place. There may be enough wiggle room for the Pentagon that would prevent women from registering for the draft.
It would be a nightmare if there were a draft and both men and women were equally eligible. If they ordered the draft as they have in the past - pulling numbers based on birthdays - we would end up with more women than men in the army, women being slightly in the majority in the US. It's the fairest way to do it, but the Pentagon would have to come up with another system if they want to keep the ratio of women to men at an acceptable level.
The point is academic because there will be no draft. But registering for Selective Service may be in a young woman's future if we really believe in "equality."