Does it violate the 13th Amendment for the Democrats to cut off pay for active duty military? *UPDATED*

Here’s J.E. Dyer about the administration’s threat to cut off pay to active duty military:

The possibility that the military will be required to continue on duty without pay also highlights one of the important differences between the military and the rest of the federal government.  The government can’t require its civilian work force to operate without pay. Its only options, with the civilian work force, are furloughing employees and shutting down services.  The civilian work force is protected by union agreements and labor laws in this regard.  The troops are not. (Emphasis mine.)

I agree that the military is different.  Ordinary labor laws could not possibly apply to them.  (“Excuse me, I have to leave the battle now.  It’s time for my union-mandated coffee break.”)  I understand too that even some Constitutional rights don’t apply to them, such as Free Speech, which can be limited because of national security.

However, can our troops really be used as slave labor, forced to work for free?  Even prisoners get wages.  Here’s the text of the 13th Amendment:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Unlike the military (or, at least the military as threatened by Obama), I’m working for pay now, and don’t have the time to do research into the ways in which the Courts have interpreted the above language.  As I said, I know there are prisoner labor cases, and perhaps there are even cases that apply directly to the military.

Do any of you know specifics about the 13th Amendment and the military?  Do any of you have an opinion about this?

UPDATE:  My friend AJStrata is up in arms about the threat to the military, which he thinks would be a spectacularly stupid move on the Administration’s part.

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Comments

  1. stanley says

    If the military is not paid then maybe we can have a military coup and certify ourselves as a 3rd world banana republic. The unions have legal protection, the military guns. 

    As Dyer says at the end of his piece “We don’t have to let the troops down.  I know Americans will step up to the plate on this one. ” I thought we already stepped to the plate by paying taxes. With April 15 coming up how about we just send our money into a military pay trust fund and not pay the government?

  2. suek says

    I remember my Mom telling me about not being paid during the WWII era.  In those day, virtually all military lived in government quarters of some type, either barracks, or family quarters.  Most shopped in the Commissary and/or PX – which are “owned” and run by the military.  As a result, they weren’t badly affected – they ran tabs in the Commissary and PX, and had no payments for their housing, since it came out of their housing allowance anyway.
     
    Things are different now.  There are relatively few government quarters.  There are still barracks for unmarried enlisted personnel, but for married personnel, or officers, almost none.  Those that still exist on various installations are run by contractors – in fact, I think they’ve been leased out to the civilian organizations that run them, though I’m not sure.  All I know is that the military no longer runs them.  Don’t know what the rules are for them – I suspect the contractors expect to be paid.  Like in legal tender – not IOUs.
     
    During WWII, the cause of the no-pay was different than the present problem, I believe.  I don’t think I know exactly what the problem was then…I was too young.
     
    By the way…going through “stuff” … found a leather pouch that says “Rations” on it, and several of the ration books for the family.  Guessing from names and addresses, they were issued between 1940 and 1943.  Does anybody know anybody who collects “historical” “stuff”?

  3. Spartacus says

    Indigo’s right… Dems may be dumb enough to have thought in November 2008 that they had reached the end of history, but I can’t imagine them making such a politically fatal mistake as not to pay the military.

  4. says

    “. . . forced to work for free?.”

    Isn’t that kind of misleading?  I (mistakenly perhaps) thought that the “shutdown” would affect the active military by delaying pay; not actually having active military work for free.  That’s the way that it has usually worked in the past.  Has Obama or congress done something different this time?

    Please don’t misunderstand me; it is still wrong to delay the pay of any worker – military, government, non-profit, for-profit, etc.  Folks deserve to be paid in a timely manner.  A “govnerment shutdown” has always been nothing more than a political game played by the bigwigs while the little guy gets screwed; but, he still gets paid, even if it is only after they have used him as their pawn.

    suek – if you are looking for someone to give that historical stuff to – and if you don’t mind it being on public display, try your local historical society/mueseum.  They might be interested in it; especially if it involves names of locals.  Small local museums often like to have displays with items like that to “make history come alive.”

  5. says

    One of the numerous issues with corruption and lack of loyalty in the Iraqi/Afghan forces was due to their horrendous pay schedule, which motivated people to take cuts on the side because they had no regular income.

    Obama, of course, wants more money for his buddies and his government goons. Very simple

  6. says

    What makes this even worse is that welfare checks are still going to go out on time.  Either making our troops work without pay or delaying their pay is a travesty when folks who do nothing are not going to have to either scramble or get behind on their payments.

  7. says

    I don’t know, Rhymes With Right, whether the draft question implicates the failure to pay.  Again, time constraints mean I haven’t looked at the law, so I’m talking off the top of my head here, but I think the analogy, again, is to prisoners. Up to a certain point, whether because of a crime or because of the obligations of citizenship, the Government can force people into activities. The prison cases, however, demonstrate that, while we can force them, we must pay them. Payment is key, which is why all the other fed employees keep their jobs, but cannot be forced to work if there’s no pay.

  8. suek says

    Except they _aren’t_ really working for no pay.  It’s true that pay is delayed.  It’s true that most people wouldn’t, for example, be willing to work for a payday once a year – but it wouldn’t be illegal, assuming they eventually got paid.
     
    And _eventually_, they _will_ get paid.

  9. JKB says

    Well, they wouldn’t be working for no pay.  They would be paid later.  And only because the payroll people are furloughed as the appropriations have to be there to incur the debt for the pay.  Same with the “essential” civilians.  Labor laws control the timeliness of pay but then the military isn’t subject to the labor laws.  There are all sorts of practicalities that get a wink and a nod during a shutdown.  Such as employees on travel, etc. either they must be returned home and furloughed or they are earning pay.  The only issue here is the delayed payment of that pay.  

    Also, I can’t remember whether the uniformed services, which are paid on a monthly basis by receive pay deposits on the 1st and the 15 are a half month behind in payments, i.e., they got paid half of march’s pay on the 1st and are due the second half on the 15th and won’t get April’s pay until May 1. 

    So in reality, the payroll offices should be rushing through the April 15 payment before their offices shutdown.  

    Even civilians are a week behind, in that the pay period ends and the checks aren’t cut until a week later (although sometimes sooner with direct deposit)

  10. Oldflyer says

    Whether the military is working without pay, or whether their pay is just delayed, is sort of moot.  Obama decides what will happen, and what won’t.  Presidential and Congressional pay will not be affected.  Obama is trying to use the military as a negotiating pawn, and he should be punished.
    I have emailed AJ Strata’s great blog entry to all of my on-line correspondents
     
    The House passed a bill this morning to fund the Dept of Defense for the rest of the year, independent of any other budgetary actions.  Our amazing talking White House was quoted as declaring that to be a distraction.
    .

  11. says

    It’s going to be as bad as the Carter/Clinton years when they had to cannibalize planes just to get the spare parts necessary to get the current ones in the air from crashing. If we’re lucky.

    The military will cut back on training, since training requires fuel, money, and maintenance cycles. Less training means more deaths in actual conflict.

    Hurray for Obama, he succeeds in indirectly getting more Americans killed. That’s surely on the agenda. Contrary to public opinion, the Left didn’t really care about body armor for the troops. They certainly weren’t going to pay for it.

  12. says

    The technical positions for military retention and recruitment are also being cut. The recruits are there. The jobs are not because Obama cut off the funds and re-diverted it to his goon’s bank accounts. Spreading the wealth and redistributing the goods, as they said.

    There were 5 such positions I heard was cut from one recruiting station. There are waiting lists because they are ostensibly “quota” filled, but I think they’re just being told not to accept more than the quota because they can’t pay for the new recruits. Less new recruits means more strain on the existing military, more stop loss if they need their experience, and NO backup being trained in the years to come to replace them to provide a buffer.

    This is the Obama people wanted to put into power over us. Look to them and don’t turn away from the truth.

  13. says

    It’s a moot point now … but I recall there was one of these panics in the Carter administration years, when it looked as if military paychecks would be seriously delayed … which is not a good morale-booster because many of the junior enlisted with families live from paycheck to paycheck. I would finish out the last day or so before a payday with some change in my purse and $1 in my bank account. So, a delay of more than a few days would have made it very difficult for some.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The Bookworm Room has posted on this and quotes J.E. Dyer at Hot Air: (my emphasis): The possibility that the military will be required to continue on duty without pay also highlights one of the important differences between the military and the rest of the federal government.  The government can’t require its civilian work force to operate without pay. Its only options, with the civilian work force, are furloughing employees and shutting down services. The civilian work force is protected by union agreements and labor laws in this regard.  The troops are not. [...]

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