America’s women may soon be signing up for the draft, following a ruling by a federal judge that deemed a male-only selective service unconstitutional.
A San Diego men’s advocacy group had pushed the issue in a lawsuit, which claimed the male-only draft was a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection clause.
In the end, US District Judge Gray Miller of the Southern District of Texas was inclined to agree.
“This case balances on the tension between the constitutionally enshrined power of Congress to raise armies and the constitutional mandate that no person be denied the equal protection of the law,” Judge Miller wrote.
James Lesmeister, a Texan, and San Diego resident Anthony Davis have been waiting for the ruling since 2013, when they realized that a large bulk of the population didn’t have to sign up for the draft. They were later joined by the National Coalition for Men.
Coalition attorney Marc Angelucci was also pleased with the ruling, claiming that forcing only males to sign up for the draft only furthered discrimination against men in other aspects, such as divorce, domestic violence and child custody.
“Women are now allowed in combat, so this decision is long overdue,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “After decades of sex discrimination against men in the Selective Service, the courts have finally found it unconstitutional to force only men to register.”
The US Government has already stepped in and asked the judge to dismiss the suit or stay a decision, at least until a “national commission studying the issue of women’s draft registration” could reach a consensus or recommendation. This, however, could take years, and would not have any real impact on whether or not Congress would move forward with it.
“Congress has been debating the male-only registration requirement since at least 1980,” Judge Miller wrote.
In a 1981 Supreme Court decision, the Military Selective Service Act was not applicable to women due to the fact that women were restricted to non-combat roles. With the lifting of the gender ban in 2015, however, that ruling no longer seems applicable.
The US Government continued to backtrack on the issue, claiming the drafting of women would be an administrative nightmare and that the majority of women would be found unfit for service after being drafted- at least compared to their male counterparts.
Sticking to the notion of equality, however, the judge held fast.
“If there was ever a time to discuss ‘the place of women in the Armed Services,’ that time has passed,” Miller concluded.
It is unknown when, or if, the draft will be opened to women.
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