Introducing Legislation to Update the Selective Service Registration Systemby Representative Gwen Moore
Posted on 2017-11-15
in the house of representatives
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Ms. MOORE. Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce legislation to make a
commonsense update to the Selective Service Registration system.
As my colleagues know, our country has long recognized the moral dilemma faced by those with strong religious or moral grounds against serving in the military and engaging in war. As noted by the Supreme Court in Welsh vs. United States, there are many in our country ``whose consciences, spurred by deeply held moral, ethical, or religious beliefs, would give them no rest or peace if they allowed themselves to become a part of an instrument of war.'' Historically, Congress has provided for alternative service or exemption from service for those whose scruples and conscience cannot allow them to participate in combat or in any form of military service.
In today's all-volunteer military, those who have moral objections to participating in war can opt not to join the military. However, under the Universal Military Training and Service Act, all men between the ages of 18 and 26, including conscientious objectors, are still required to register for a national draft, should Congress authorize one.
My bill would require that the Selective Service provide registrants, at the time of registration, with the option to indicate a desire to be classified as a conscientious objector.
My bill would make clear that simply making that indication at registration does not bind the U.S. in any way and does not assure that the registrant will be so classified.
Finally, the bill would allow the Selective Service system to also accept, at the time of registration, written statements in support of a conscientious exemption claim.
I want to be clear that the legislation does not change current requirements for how such claims are handled. Under current law, those who pursue a conscientious exemption from military service during a draft can only put forward an actual claim, with supporting evidence, after they get an induction notice.
Again Mr. Speaker, our nation has a history of recognizing, as noted by the Supreme Court in Gillette v. United States, ``the situation of conscientious objectors to war, who, absent special status, would be put to a hard choice between contravening imperatives of religion and conscience or suffering penalties.'' My bill simply tries to make the process of registering those objections more direct and straightforward.