Heritage Action on “Draft our Daughters” Amendment

Washington — A proposal to “Draft Our Daughters” was added to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) during committee markup last month. The amendment would require women between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for the Selective Service. Heritage Action released the following statement from chief operating officer Michael A. Needham:

“The Republican-controlled House should block any effort to force America’s daughters into combat. More broadly, Congress should revisit the Obama administration’s unilateral decision to open all combat roles.”

In a new op-ed, The Heritage Foundation’s Jennifer Marshall, Genevieve Wood and Steve Bucci explain:

While other arguments against including women in a draft can be made, some members of Congress and two federal court challenges already are seeking to exploit the opening of all combat roles to women to get a different result.

The combat exclusion was a significant factor in a 1981 Supreme Court case on registering women for Selective Service.

In Rostker v. Goldberg, the Supreme Court deferred to Congress, citing the combat distinction. “Since women are excluded from combat, Congress concluded that they would not be needed in the event of a draft, and therefore decided not to register them,” wrote Justice William Rehnquist for the majority. “Congress was certainly entitled, in the exercise of its constitutional powers to raise and regulate armies and navies, to focus on the question of military need rather than ‘equity.’”

If the draft were reinstated in a future conflict and women were included, what would the consequences be for combat effectiveness, for individual women sent into frontline ground combat, for the men alongside them, or for families and society at large?

With such looming questions unanswered, Congress should prohibit forcing women into combat, including through Selective Service registration. And, since many voices are already citing the fact that women can serve in all combat posts to argue that women must register for the draft, Congress should also revisit the blanket policy of women in combat.