A move in Congress to require young women to register for the draft as young men are required to do has riled conservatives like Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. The issue is, for the moment at least, a theoretical one. America hasn’t drafted anyone in half a century, relying entirely on a volunteer military since 1973.
But men ages 18 to 25 still are required by federal law to register for the draft — so that if military conscription is ever reimplemented, the government will know where to find them. That somewhat chilling dynamic, once controversial, has long ago fallen under the public’s outrage radar. The latest controversy over potential female draft registration has the potential to reignite debate over the entire concept of draft registration. And it should.
The pending Senate National Defense Authorization Act would require women to register for the draft as men do. It was recently approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee. Five Republicans on the committee opposed it.