Constitutional FAQ Answer #49 – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

Constitutional FAQ Answer #49

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Q49. “It would seem that Amendment 13, Section 1 would outlaw the concept of
the conscription of citizens into the military forces (“Neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude….”) How has our government legally justified that
practice (I’m sure I’m not the first person to see this paradox.) It would also
seem that, by extension, the mandatory registration for the draft that
currently is practiced would also be unconstitutional.”

A. Though you might be able to argue that compulsive military service is a
form of involuntary servitude, I think that if the issue came up in court, the
judge(s) would note that the term “involuntary servitude” has a very specific
connotation, and military service is not part of it. The Congress has the
power to regulate the armed forces, and the Selective Service registration
doubtless would fall under that provision.

Last Modified: 17 Aug 2010

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