Letter to Rep. Ron Paul on ACLU support for H. Con. Res. 368, Opposing the Reinstatement of a Military Draft

The Honorable Ron E. Paul
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515 

Re: H. Con. Res. 368, Opposing the Reinstatement of a Military Draft 


Dear Representative Paul:

The American Civil Liberties Union is pleased to endorse H. Con. Res. 368, which expresses the sense of the Congress that reinstatement of a draft would be unnecessary and detrimental to individual liberties. We welcome your leadership in authoring this resolution and urge its adoption. The ACLU is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, composed of almost 300,000 members, dedicated to preserving our civil liberties and freedoms. 

We oppose mandatory military service because it is an extraordinary invasion of personal liberty. Our volunteer military has attracted, and continues to attract, many men and women of exceptional ability and character who are willing to make sacrifices to serve our country, as we have seen over the past months in military operations in Afghanistan. If the military faces recruitment problems, as an alternative to forced registration, Congress could offer recruits pay and living conditions that are adequate to attract those qualified to carry out the mission that the armed forces are tasked with performing. 

While no one disputes that the world is a dangerous place, for now and for the foreseeable future there remains no threat to the nation which justifies forcing men to register to serve in the military against their will. If a crisis develops that does require raising an army, in the first months the military would activate reserves and, if necessary, recruit volunteers. Only after such steps have proved insufficient should the government even consider reinstating a draft. 

Many Americans have deeply held moral or religious beliefs against military service. A draft would force them to struggle to decide whether they can cooperate and remain faithful to those beliefs, or justify their most private and deeply held values to a government official in order to obtain the status of a conscientious objector. Thus, the costs of reinstating the draft cannot be measured only in terms of taxpayer dollars or even in the lost liberty of those who are forced to serve against their will. It must also be measured in the anguish faced by many Americans who face a choice between obedience to the law and obedience to faith or conscience. 

Over the past months, incautious voices have urged the reinstatement of the draft in the wake of the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001. As with a number of other misguided policies, these voices urge such a radical shift in the balance between government power and liberty even though a draft would plainly would have no positive effect on the security of Americans. We commend you for introducing a resolution that would put Congress on record against forced military service, and in favor of our volunteer military. 

Sincerely, 

Laura W. Murphy
Director, ACLU Washington Office 

Timothy H. Edgar
ACLU Legislative Counsel 

cc: Hon. Cynthia McKinney
Hon. Fortney H. "Pete" Stark 

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