Archive for June, 2016

The History of U.S. Draft Registration

Posted in Law on 20160626 by Avenging Sword

In a recent Vox post, Katherine Hicks stated,

. . . If [S.2943, the Senate version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act] becomes law, women turning 18 on or after January 1, 2018, will have to sign up for the Selective Service System.

Men have been required to do so since the Civil War, though the Selective Service System has only existed in its current form since 1980.[1]

The italicized phrase, however, oversimplifies the history of American draft registration, and seemingly – but erroneously – implies that male draft registration has been continuously required from the Civil War until today.  In fact, during the Civil War, the federal government probably did not require men to register for the draft.  During both world wars, the United States required men to register, but initially only on certain days.  Continuous registration, with men having to register upon turning 18, only began in World War II.

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The Origins of Felon Disenfranchisement in Virginia

Posted in Law on 20160613 by Avenging Sword

The Virginia state constitution denies the vote to every “person who has been convicted of a felony . . . unless his civil rights have been restored by the Governor or other appropriate authority.”[1]  Recently, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe ordered the restoration of voting rights for all felons “who have, as of this 22nd day of April 2016, (1) completed their sentences of incarceration for any and all felony convictions; and (2) completed their sentences of supervised release, including probation and parole, for any and all felony convictions.”[2]  Defending this order, articles in several publications subsequently argued that Virginia’s felon disfranchisement provision originated in the commonwealth’s previous, Jim-Crow-era, 1902 constitution.[3]  Disagreeing with this position are various other parties, including Governor McAuliffe himself,[4] opponents of his order,[5] federal courts,[6] and scholarly opponents of felon disfranchisement,[7] all of whom explicitly or implicitly concede that Virginian felon disfranchisement long predates the 1902 constitution.  In my view, this latter position is correct; Virginia first disfranchised felons at least three, and perhaps seven, decades before the enactment of the 1902 “Jim Crow” constitution.

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