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Public hearing and written comments on draft registration

By Ed Hasbrouk | The Practical Nomad | February 16, 2018

For the first time in decades, a Federal commission is holding open-mike public hearings throughout the USA (starting next Friday, 23 February 2018, in Harrisburg, PA) and taking written testimony (through 19 April 2018, Patriots’ Day) on whether draft registration should be ended or extended to women as well as men; whether there should be a draft of people with medical or other special skills regardless of age or gender; whether a draft would be “feasible” (it wouldn’t, because so many people haven’t registered with the Selective Service System, have moved without notifying the SSS, and/or would resist if drafted); and related issues.

Despite some problems, this is by far your best and most open opportunity in decades to tell the Federal government to end draft registration.

In late 2015, Commander-In-Chief Obama ordered all military assignments opened to women. That order undercut, and probably eliminated, the legal argument that had been used since 1980 to justify requiring only men, but not women, to register for the draft.

That gave members of Congress three options, none of which most of them wanted to take responsibility for, in the run-up to the 2016 elections:

  1. Do nothing and wait for courts to invalidate the requirement for men to register for the draft;
  2. Repeal the requirement for men to register, and abolish the Selective Service System (and risk being attacked as peaceniks); or
  3. Extend the requirement to register for the draft to women as well as men (and risk being attacked by both feminists and sexists).

After elaborate bi-partisan machinations, Congress chose Door Number One (“Do Nothing”). Perhaps members of Congress thought that would allow them to point the finger of “blame” at the courts, and away from themselves, if draft registration was ended. More likely they just wanted to punt this political hot potato past the 2016 elections into the Clinton or Trump Administration.

To provide further political cover for delaying its decision, Congress voted in late 2016 to establish a National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service “to conduct a review of the military selective service process (commonly referred to as ‘the draft’).” The Commission is required to solicit and consider public comments, and to report back to the President and Congress with its recommendations by March 2020 (at which time its recommendations can either be ignored, used, or abused to score points in 2020 election campaigns).

That Commission has now been appointed and held its first public meeting on 18 January 2018.

Today the Commission published:

  • A notice in the Federal Register soliciting written comments (by a Web form or by e-mail to “national.commission.on.service.info@mail.mil”, mentioning “Docket No. 05-2018-01” in the subject) though 19 April 2018; and
  • An announcement on the Commission’s Web site of a first public hearing, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. next Friday, 23 February 2018, at the Harrisburg Area Community College, Midtown Trade and Technology Center, Midtown 2, Room 206, 1500 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg, PA.

Pass the word to any of your contacts who might be able to make it to Harrisburg that day.

It’s unclear how the Commission’s hearings will be conducted. So far as I can tell from the announcement it appears that at least the first hearing will be a first-come, first-served, open microphone event, although I have no idea how much time each speaker will be allowed.

The law establishing the Commission requires that:

The Commission shall conduct hearings on the recommendations it is taking under consideration. Any such hearing, except a hearing in which classified information is to be considered, shall be open to the public. Any hearing open to the public shall be announced on a Federal website at least 14 days in advance. For all hearings open to the public, the Commission shall release an agenda and a listing of materials relevant to the topics to be discussed.

The Commission’s first planned hearing in Harrisburg, PA, on 23 February 2018, was announced on the Commission’s Insprire2Serve.gov Web site on February 16th, only seven days in advance. The Commission appears to be in flagrant violation of the statutory requirement for 14 days’ notice, and the hearing in Harrisburg, if it is held on February 23rd, will be unlawful. As of a week before the planned hearing, no agenda has been released.

Members of the Commission have said it plans to hold public hearings in each of the nine US Census regions over the next two years, but none of the other dates and locations have been announced yet.

February 17, 2018 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | ,

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