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Earthworm Jim
04-21-2004, 08:42 AM
I know this has been tried before - could some one please explain the verdict to me? What reasoning held that the draft does not constitute involuntary servitude?

Please note, I don't want to debate the topic - I'm trying to understand the findings of the Supreme Court, which I assume would be a question with a factual answer. Thank you!

Bricker
04-21-2004, 09:29 AM
The Master's brief analysis: Here. (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_140b.html)

In Selective Draft Law Cases, 245 U.S. 366 (1918), the Supreme Court said:

We are unable to conceive upon what theory the exaction by government from the citizen of the performance of his supreme and noble duty of contributing to the defense of the rights and honor of the nation, as the result of a war declared by the great representative body of the people, can be said to be the imposition of involuntary servitude in violation of the prohibitions of the Thirteenth Amendment, we are constrained to the conclusion that the contention to that effect is refuted by its mere statement.

In other words, the draft just simply ain't "involuntary servitude" within the meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment.

The draft doesn't even require a formal declaration of war by "the great representative body of the people." During the Vietnam War, which was never an actual declared war, the Court upheld a conviction for burning a draft card and declared that the power to classify and conscript manpower for military service was "beyond question.'' United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 377 (1968).

See also US v. Holmes, 387 F.2d 781, 784 (7th Cir. 1968).

- Rick

Nametag
04-21-2004, 09:39 AM
In other words, the Supreme Court knows perfectly well that the authors of the 13th Amendment didn't intend to ban compulsory national service, and we'll have no unintended consequences here, thank you very much.

Good reasoning -- pity they didn't apply it to the 14th, too.

Steve MB
04-21-2004, 10:01 AM
The Master's brief analysis: Here. (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_140b.html)

In Selective Draft Law Cases, 245 U.S. 366 (1918), the Supreme Court said:



In other words, the draft just simply ain't "involuntary servitude" within the meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment.

The draft doesn't even require a formal declaration of war by "the great representative body of the people." During the Vietnam War, which was never an actual declared war, the Court upheld a conviction for burning a draft card and declared that the power to classify and conscript manpower for military service was "beyond question.'' United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 377 (1968).

See also US v. Holmes, 387 F.2d 781, 784 (7th Cir. 1968).

- Rick

I'm reminded of Cecil's comment in his "Ohio Argument" column (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a5_127.html): "Just one problem. The Porth decision didn't specifically address the Ohio argument. It just sort of spluttered that attacks on the 16th Amendment were stupid."

It would appear that sputtering is one of the building blocks of American Constitutional Law.

David Simmons
04-21-2004, 10:22 AM
Lots of previous answers. Here is Findlaw's summary of 13th Ammendment cases. (http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/constitution/amendment13/03.html)

JRDelirious
04-21-2004, 10:41 AM
In other words, the Supreme Court knows perfectly well that the authors of the 13th Amendment didn't intend to ban compulsory national service, and we'll have no unintended consequences here, thank you very much. The rulings boiling down to that the purpose was a ban on the imposition upon a person of the civil condition of chattel slave, landbound serf, or indentured servant (of a private patron). You can be pressed into public service, but it has to be for a term, in exchange for compensation, and under certain due process rights. Think of it as an eminent-domain "taking" of your time and labor.

David Simmons
04-21-2004, 11:41 AM
... You can be pressed into public service, but it has to be for a term, in exchange for compensation, and under certain due process rights. Think of it as an eminent-domain "taking" of your time and labor.

That term can be pretty indefinite. For example, in WWII the term for both draftees and enlistees was the "duration of the war plus 6 months." And the war wasn't officially over until the government said it was. I.e. a formal treaty would end it but such treaties are often not formalized until long after the conflict has ended.

kunilou
04-21-2004, 11:41 AM
Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power "to raise and support" a military force, and the Supreme Court has not been anxious to define how the military force can be "raised."