Registration Divides Congress; Local Groups Plan Opposition
Local opposition to President Carter's call for reinstitution of Selective Service registration began to mount yesterday, while in Washington Congressional leaders disagreed on the bill's chance of passage.
Carter recommended that 18 to 26-year-old citizens be required to register for the draft in his State of the Union address Wednesday night. He asked Congress to resurrect the Selective Service program, which Congress abolished in 1975,
The Boston Alliance Against the Draft (BAARD) will rally on Cambridge Common at noon tomorrow, Ted Mitchell, a member of the group's steering committee, said yesterday.
Harvard's Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee (DSOC) will probably begin educational programs and organize opposition to registration.
Although leaders of Congressional opposition to the draft said yesterday they feared the bill would pass with the president's support, Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) a strong backer of the bill, said, "I'm not sure we can muster the votes to get it through."
Hell No, We Won't Go
BAARD will set up anti-draft counseling programs and begin weekly meetings at its Sellers St. headquarters, Dorothy Boudreau, a member of the group's steering committee, said. BAARD's national affiliate, the Committee Against Registration and the Draft, announced yesterday that it would begin lobbying and demonstrating the plan.
Boudreau said concerned students began calling BAARD immediately after the speech. "I'm sensing everywhere a real strong feeling against the idea," she said, adding "there is nothing like the issue the draft to revive apathetic students."
Margo Nelson '80, a member of the DSOC steering committee, said yesterday the group had not yet met to discuss the issue, but added that it took an anti-draft position last summer.
"Given that the U.S. Army has been used for unjustifiable aims, we object to having people forced to fill the ranks for those aims," Nelson said.
"If, as seems likely, registration passes Congress, we will organize around it this spring," she said, adding that the group would "attempt to educate students, and along with that probably hold demonstrations and do whatever else seemed to be best tactically."
The Senate Armed Services Committee has already approved a bill to revive registration, Richard Cocker, press secretary for Sen. Henry Jackson (D-Wash.) said yesterday.
"It obviously will be a very difficult thing to get passed-it is such a politically hot issue because of past troubles with the draft," Cocker said. "In 1941, even after the fall of France, the House only approved the draft by a single vote," he added.
Roland McElroy, a spokesman for Nunn, said that the senator supported registration, but hoped the draft would not be necessary.
"We would like to think that the act of registration might stimulate some volunteers for the all volunteer forces," McElroy said, adding "It may have some psychological impact."
McElroy agreed that the fight to pass the bill would be tough, but added, "it would have been tougher six months ago. I think people will be surprised at the widespread national support for registration."
Spokesmen for Sen. Paul Tsongas (D-Mass.) and Rep. James Shannon (D-Mass.) said the two opposed resumption of registration, but agreed the bill probably had widespread bipartisan support.