Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



In Arver v. U. S., and five similar cases attacking the validity of the so-called National Army Act of May 18, 1917, Public Statutes, No. 12, 65th Congress, c. -, - Stat. -. ) the Supreme Court unanimously sustained the validity of the Act so far as attacked. The contention that compulsory military service as provided in the Act is contrary to our fundamental conception of the nature of citizenship, and that such compulsion is repugnant to a free government and in conflict with the guaranties of the Constitution as to individual liberty, the Court disposed of summarily and completely by pointing out that the power given to Congress to raise armies was plenary, subject to no limitations and co-extensive with the same powers possessed by other governments. This part of the argument runs largely upon historical grounds. As the Court says, the arguments of the objectors are clearly untenable. The contention that even though Congress possesses the power to raise armies, its members cannot be sent out of the United States without their consent is due, as the court points out, to the wholly inexcusable confusion between limitations upon the power of Congress over the organized State militia and the power of Congress over such armies as it may raise under Art. 1, § 8, of the Constitution. The objections raised were obviously flimsy if not wholly insincere and were based upon no sound legal grounds. For this reason, and as the gist of the Court's opinion has been made widely known extended comment here is undesirable. The opinion of the Court with its marginal notes contains important historical references showing that the principle of the Act in question is quite in accord with our own colonial and national experience and policies and with that of other great nations of the world.