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Federal judge rules male-only draft unconstitutional now that women serve in combat roles


Decision puts pressure on Congress to either force females to register with the Selective Service System or scrap it altogether

Image source: The Atlantic YouTube screenshot

A federal judge has deemed the Selective Service System's male-only draft unconstitutional, calling it discriminatory because "men and women are now 'similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft'" now that restrictions have been lifted on women fighting in combat roles.

While the move does not automatically mean women will now be forced to register with the Selective Service, it puts pressure on Congress to address whether the draft should include females — or if it should continue to exist at all.

What are the details?

USA Today reported on the decision made by U.S. District Judge Gray Miller late Friday. The case was brought by the National Coalition for Men, and two individual men, who argue that forcing only males to register for the draft is discriminatory and "an aspect of socially institutionalized male disposability."

Judge Miller agreed, saying previous arguments against women being drafted are no longer valid. The jurist cited language from a previous case when he wrote, "if there ever was a time to discuss 'the place of women in the Armed Services,' that time has passed." The U.S. military opened all combat positions to women in 2015.

Miller further argued "the average woman could conceivably be better suited physically for some of today's combat positions than the average man, depending on which skills the position required," adding, "combat roles no longer uniformly require sheer size or muscle."

The National Commission on Military, National and Public Service is currently weighing whether to include women in the draft or to scrap it altogether, but its final report isn't expected until next year.

The defendants had argued the court should delay its decision until the commission's recommendations were issued, yet Judge Miller pointed out that the panel's findings are purely advisory and will not force the hand of Congress to act.

The National Coalition for Men praised the decision, with attorney Marc Angelucci releasing a statement saying: "After decades of sex discrimination against men in the Selective Service, the courts have finally found it unconstitutional to force only men to register."

"Even without a draft, men still face prison, fines, and denial of federal loans for not registering or for not updating the government of their whereabouts. Since women will be required to register with the Selective Service, they should face the same repercussions as men for any noncompliance," Angelucci explained.

Anything else?

Friday's ruling granted the plaintiffs a summary judgment but denied their request for an injunction; so, although the court found the male-only draft unconstitutional, it did not provide direction on how it should be corrected.

Angelucci acknowledged to USA Today, "Yes, to some extend this is symbolic, but it does have some real-world impact. Either they need to get rid of the draft legislation, or they need to require women to do the same thing that men do."

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