1918 January 7

Supreme Court Rules WW I Draft Does Not Violate 13th Amendment


When the U. S. entered World War I and created a draft for the army, some opponents of the war, including the anarchist Emma Goldman, argued that the draft violated the Thirteenth Amendment’s prohibition of involuntary servitude. The Supreme Court on this day rejected that challenge to the draft in a set of six cases, generally referred to as the Selective Draft Law Cases. The case was argued by Harry Weinberger (March 9, 1944), one of the most important civil liberties attorneys during World War I

The Court: “Compelled military service is neither repugnant to a free government nor in conflict with the constitutional guaranties of individual liberty. Indeed, it may not be doubted that the very conception of a just government and its duty to the citizen includes the duty of the citizen to render military service in case of need, and the right of the government to compel it.”

Read the Supreme Court decision: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/245/366/case.html

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