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America’s Unwritten Constitution by Akhil Reed Amar

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CHAPTER 2

HEEDING THE DEED

America’s Enacted Constitution

By the time of World War I, the constitutional propriety of a national draft seemed well settled, even though most Americans in the late 1780s and early 1790s had envisioned a federal army composed of volunteers, not citizen conscripts. While nothing in the text of any subsequent amendment explicitly or implicitly addressed the issue of conscription, the very process by which the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted in the wake of the Civil War provided strong—albeit unwritten—support for a national draft.

DON’T WAIT FOR THE DRAFT (1917).

By the time of World War I, the constitutional propriety of a national draft seemed well settled, even though most Americans in the late 1780s and early 1790s had envisioned a federal army composed of volunteers, not citizen conscripts. While nothing in the text of any subsequent amendment explicitly or implicitly addressed the issue of conscription, the very process by which the Fourteenth Amendment was enacted in the wake of the Civil War provided strong—albeit unwritten—support for a national draft.

IN THE FATEFUL YEAR FOLLOWING the unveiling of the ...

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