Sunday, February 05, 2023

The Constitutionality of Mandatory Military Service in the United States

Upon further research into the merits of federally mandated military service of all American adults, a common misconception that I came across is that such a policy would be unconstitutional.  The idea here is that the Thirteenth Amendment, which reads "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist...", prohibits the government from instituting such a practice.  This, however, is not the case.  

While slavery and involuntary servitude are indeed prohibited by the constitution, mandated military service is not.  This is because all enlisted personnel are paid salaries and given benefits, which means that service, while it may be "involuntary", cannot be deemed "slavery" or "servitude".  This means that the federal government is free to mandate such service if the need arises - as long as all participants are compensated.  A far reaching, yet more plausible, case may be made that mandated service violates a person's freedom of religion or expression, although this argument has little merit.

The issue with such a policy is that it is "unAmerican".  A nation that is depicted and viewed globally as a bastion of freedom and liberty would be going against their perceived nature by removing a citizen's personal choices by mandating such service.  The individual liberty that America boasts has drawn people to the nation for centuries and it would behoove us to continue to uphold it.

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