Although the Selective Service System is authorized by the Selective Service
Act, some argue the constitutionality of the act, claiming the law violates the
Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by providing for military
conscription. Opponents of the law contend that the draft constitutes
"involuntary servitude", under the amendment, which states:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for
crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within
the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
This has not been supported by the courts; as the Supreme Court said in
Butler v. Perry, 240 U.S. 328 (1916):
The amendment was adopted with reference to conditions existing since the
foundation of our government, and the term 'involuntary servitude' was
intended to cover those forms of compulsory labor akin to African slavery
which, in practical operation, would tend to produce like undesirable
results. It introduced no novel doctrine with respect of services always
treated as exceptional, and certainly was not intended to interdict
enforcement of those duties which individuals owe to the state, such as
services in the army, militia, on the jury, etc.
In the current registration system one cannot indicate that he is a
conscientious objector (CO) to war when registering, but he can make such a
claim when being drafted. Some men choose to write on the registration card I
am a conscientious objector to war to document their conviction, even though
the government will not have such a classification until there is a draft.
Today, the most likely form of draft is a one of health care workers. In
1987, Congress ordered the Selective Service System to put in place a system
capable of drafting "persons qualified for practice or employment in a health
care occupation", if such a special-skills draft should be ordered by Congress.
In response, Selective Service published plans for the "Health Care Personnel
Delivery System" (HCPDS) in 1989 and has had them ready ever since. The concept
underwent a preliminary field exercise in Fiscal Year 1998, followed by a more
extensive nationwide readiness exercise in Fiscal Year 1999. The HCPDS plans
include women and men age 20–54 in 57 job categories.