I should have posted this earlier. But this Monday at 12 PM , I will be taking part in a panel on "national service" at the Hudson Institute (1015 15th Street, NW, Washington DC), along with Bruce Reed of the Democratic Leadership Council, consultant Shirley Sagawa, and prominent conservative political scientist Leslie Lenkowsky. I anticipate that Mr. Reed and Ms. Sagawa will be defending federal government-sponsored national service, whereas Lenkowsky and I will be criticizing it.
Back in 2007, I wrote a series of posts criticizing mandatory national service and arguing that it violates the Thirteenth Amendment's prohibition of "involuntary servitude" for any purpose other than as punishment for a crime. On the panel, I hope to discuss both current proposals for voluntary service (which I don't think are necessarily unconstitutional, but are still seriously flawed), as well as the looming danger of mandatory national service - an idea that has been endorsed by many prominent political leaders, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and John McCain. The issue doesn't necessarily split people along left-right lines, though that may be the case on this panel. Many conservatives defended the draft until the 1970s, and conservative icon William F. Buckley published a book advocating national service in 1989 (he claimed his proposal was for voluntary service only, but also urged that those who refuse to serve be subject to various "sanctions," including denial of a drivers license and high school diploma).
UPDATE: The original version of this post gave the wrong address for the Hudson Institute. I apologize for any confusion.