It's really the last bastion of overt slavery in the U.S. It presumes government command of men, representing the assertion of state ownership of a man's will, his body, and his life, and of the right to sacrifice all three for the state's chosen purpose, whether he agrees or not. With significant penalties resulting from failure to register; imprisonment, limitations on access to programs they're required to fund through taxes, and exclusion from citizenship if they are immigrants. Requirement to register is not like being required to have a license in order to do or have something special. These are not conditions placed on men based on any choice or a trade. These are conditions placed on men merely because of their existence and their sex.
There is no other honest description for coerced registration except slavery. There is no other honest description involuntary military conscription except slavery. The government essentially owns every man in the United states, and reserves the right to demand any man risk everything to support any conflict into which the government chooses to place him, and if he refuses to submit to that, the government reserves the right to punish him.
In recent conflicts, the U.S. population and the military have demonstrated that even if the draft were justified and not an abuse of power, it isn't needed. Our population has been able to support extensive and widespread military action without it, even without full public support. Even in controversial actions, enough people have enlisted that while our military is active on multiple fronts, there's been no involuntary conscription by the U.S. government.
This is partly due to the existing level of public support for the current efforts. Even though it is not universal, it has been high enough. It's also partly due to the high rate of enrollment in recent decades, so that the military could rely on recalling Individual Ready Reserves.
The reason enrollment and recall have been enough is due to the second factor; advancements in technology and resulting advancements in tactics, which have greatly reduced the rate of injury and death occurring on the American side of a military action. Compare the current actions to the actions of the 20th century, and you'll see a decline in injury and death between the world war eras and today. Because of that, the military isn't having to constantly replenish its ranks to replace large losses (and there's a whole other discussion in that which I won't get into here,) and there is no legitimate excuse to claim a shortage of military personnel in an all volunteer military.
The only reason state officials would have left to want to keep this antiquated, discriminatory and abusive system in place is to retain the power to enslave and exploit men in the event the administration decides to execute military action that isn't so approved and accepted by the population as to draw volunteers. There is no justification for that; only a sense of entitlement which a society has no business tolerating while considering itself modern and civilized... especially when that entitlement is discriminatory. It's really time this ended. It never should have been enacted in the first place.
On a side note, 20th presidential actions on the draft; who did what, and when:
- 1917 - original Selective Service Act, signed by Woodrow Wilson.
- 1940 - Burke-Wadsworth Act (first peacetime conscription), signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt
- 1948 - Elston Act (established the current system), signed by Harry Truman
- 1951 - Universal Military Training and Service Act (lowered draft eligibility age by 6 months, increased time of service mandate) signed by Harry Truman
- 1963 - Executive Order 11119 (exempts married men) signed by John F. Kennedy
- 1965 - Executive Order 11241 (revokes exemption for married men if childless/no dependents) signed by Lyndon B. Johnson
- 1967 - Military Selective Service Act (expanded
conscription ages to 18-35, modified student deferment to end at age 24
or completion of 4 year degree, whichever first) signed by Lyndon B. Johnson
- 1969 - Amendment to Military Selective Service Act (created the draft lottery used during the Vietnam war) signed by Richard Nixon
- 1971 - Amendment to Military Selective Service Act
(made registration compulsory, set up registration classifications -
eligible or conscientious objector - and eliminated all student
deferments except divinity school, changed draft board membership
requirements) signed by Richard Nixon
- 1973 - creation of an all-volunteer armed forces announced by Secretary of Defense Melvin R. Laird during the presidency of Richard Nixon
- 1975 - Proclamation 4360, Terminating Registration Procedures Under Military Selective Service Act (Eliminated registration requirement) signed by Gerald Ford
- 1980 - Proclamation 4771, Registration Under the Military Selective Service Act (retroactively re-established registration requirement for anyone born on or after 1/1/1960) signed by Jimmy Carter
- 1986 - Executive Order 12553 (eliminated
executive orders 11119 and 11241, by Kennedy & Johnson,
respectively, along with a long list of other executive orders) signed
by Ronald Reagan