President Jimmy Carter Proposes Draft Registration for Women

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NBC Nightly News
John Chancellor/Judy Woodruff/Robert Hager
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Video News Report
NBCUniversal Media, LLC.
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President Jimmy Carter proposes the plan of registering women for the military draft, igniting a firestorm of discussion and controversy from men and women alike. The Senate Armed Services Committee would not support the Carter proposal, and the Supreme Court would later uphold the constitutionality of exempting women in the 1981 case Rostker v. Goldberg.



"President Jimmy Carter Proposes Draft Registration for Women." Judy Woodruff, Robert Hager, correspondent. NBC Nightly News. NBCUniversal Media. 8 Jan. 1980. NBC Learn. Web. 18 January 2020.


Woodruff, J. (Reporter), & Hager, R. (Reporter), & Chancellor, J. (Anchor). (1980, January 8). President Jimmy Carter Proposes Draft Registration for Women. [Television series episode]. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from


"President Jimmy Carter Proposes Draft Registration for Women" NBC Nightly News, New York, NY: NBC Universal, 01/08/1980. Accessed Sat Jan 18 2020 from NBC Learn:


President Jimmy Carter Proposes Draft Registration for Women


President Carter wants Americans aged 18 to 20 to register for the draft. And for the first time in American history, he wants young women to register as well as young men. All part of Mr. Carter’s responses to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Congress must approve, and there is some doubt that it will go along with his proposal for the registration of women. Two reports from Washington.

JUDY WOODRUFF reporting:

His proposal was a history-making break with tradition. But, the President didn’t want to announce it himself. Instead, he left early in the day for Camp David. In a written statement, Mr. Carter said requiring women to register for military service makes sense, because women are now doing all types of civilian jobs, and the military should be no exception. He reiterated however, his opposition to women engaging in combat. Here is how his proposal would work. Whether or not Congress approves his proposal to register women, young men will have to register beginning this summer. There would be a five-day period in which all 19 and 20-year-olds would be required to go to their local post office to register. Beginning next year, 18-year-olds would be required to sign up on their birthdays. No draft cards would be issued, but registrants would receive letters from the Selective Service. Referring to recent Soviet aggression, the President’s statements said registration for the draft is a further demonstration of our resolve as a nation. Judy Woodruff, NBC News, the White House.

ROBERT HAGER reporting:

On Capitol Hill, the registration of women faces likely defeat. An informal poll of the 14 member Senate Armed Services Committee shows all but two or three members against registering women. ‘Congress will vote it down,’ says Chairman John Stennis.

Sen. JOHN STENNIS (Democrat, Mississippi): I don’t ordinarily make predictions too much. I believe in the processes, but I don’t think it will have the support. It’s not needed.

HAGER: In the House, the Armed Services Committee there is said to be against registering women. The chairman of the subcommittee that will handle the bill, Richard White.

Rep. RICHARD WHITE (Democrat, Texas): There is no need to register women at this time.

HAGER: So you would be against it?

WHITE: I would, indeed.

HAGER: And how do you think it’ll fare here on the Hill, that legislation?

WHITE: Well, judging from other measures, I would judge that it would fail.

HAGER: And Senator Mark Hatfield says if there was a chance of it passing, he would lead a filibuster. Why then is the Administration submitting it it? Some in Congress believe groups like the National Women’s Political Caucus or NOW, the National Organization for Women, are the reason the Carter Administration is going through the motions. Both groups influence blocks of women voters. Both groups say, if there’s to be registration, it should include women. But Congress seems certain to reject registration, and because of that to cut back on the President’s request for 45 million dollars to fund the operation. Robert Hager, NBC News, at the Capitol.