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According to NPR, a federal judge from Texas recently ruled that since combat roles are available to women, continuing to have an all-male military draft was unconstitutional because it violates the equal protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution.
The judge, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller, stated, “If there ever was a time to discuss the place of women in the Armed Services, that time has passed.”
The military draft was eliminated in 1973, but the Selective Service System was revived in 1980, just in case military mobilization became necessary again.
Thus, all men aged 18 through 25 were and are still mandated by law to provide basic personal information to the Selective Service System. And men who fail to register with the government can be denied public benefits such as student loans, federal jobs, etc.
However, women either don’t have to or are not allowed to register, and it used to be because they were seen as ineligible for combat.
But in 2013, the Pentagon removed the ban on women in combat, and in 2015 lifted all gender-based restrictions.
Miller’s ruling was a win for the National Coalition For Men, an organization that aims to raise awareness of discrimination against men.
“Forcing only males to register is an aspect of socially institutionalized male disposability,” the group said in a statement. “Men still face prison, fines, and denial of federal loans for not registering or for not updating the government of their whereabouts. ” Women,” the group said, “should face the same repercussions as men for any noncompliance.”
The Selective Service System banked on the 1981 Supreme Court decision; the court ruled that the male-only draft was justified because women were not eligible for combat, an argument Miller claims holds no merit.
“At its core, [the Selective Service System] argument rests on the assumption that women are significantly more combat-averse than men,” Miller wrote, per 10News. “Thus, the relevant question is not what proportion of women are physically eligible for combat – it may well be that only a small percentage of women meets the physical standards for combat positions.”
However, Miller said the argument “smacks of archaic and overbroad generalizations about women’s preferences.
“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. Combat roles no longer uniformly require sheer size or muscle.”
“Yes, to some extent this is symbolic, but it does have some real-world impact,” Marc Angelucci, the lawyer for the group challenging the Selective Service System, said. “Either they need to get rid of the draft registration, or they need to require women to do the same thing that men do.”
But, this was merely a ruling. Miller has not forced the Selective Service System to make a decision, which is why the agency is still requiring only males to register.