Women’s rights groups demand a change to Supreme Court policy that only men enroll in conscription at age 18
The Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether it is discrimination for the government to require only men to enroll in military service when they turn 18.
The question of whether it is unconstitutional to require men but not women to register can be regarded as one with little practical impact.
The last time there was conscription was during the Vietnam War and the military has been completely voluntary ever since.
But the registration requirement is one of the few remaining places where federal law treats men and women differently, and women’s groups are among those who argue it’s harmful to enforce it.
The judges could say as soon as possible Monday whether they will hear a case related to the Military Selective Service Act, which requires men to enroll in the draft.
Army 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, center, and Captain Kristen Griest, right, pose for photos with other female West Point alumni after a graduation ceremony from Army Ranger school at Fort Benning. Haver and Griest became the first female graduates of the Army’s rigorous Ranger School. The Supreme Court is now being asked to consider whether the design should apply to both women and men
The Supreme Court would consider the constitutionality of the rule that only men must register for the draft. If they decide it’s unconstitutional, it’s up to Congress to write a new law
Ria Tabacco Mar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, who is urging the court to consider the matter, says requiring men to register poses a “serious burden on men.” which is not imposed on women’.
Men who fail to register are no longer eligible for student loans and civil service jobs, and failure to register is also a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.
But Tabacco Mar says the male-only requirement does more than that.
“It also sends out a hugely damaging message that women are less suited than men to serve their country in this particular way and conversely that men are less suited than women to stay at home as caretakers in the event of armed conflict,” he said. they.
“We think those stereotypes humiliate both men and women.”
Even if the concept is never used again, maintaining the requirement that only men are needed is a “really harmful message,” said Tabacco Mar, who represents the National Coalition For Men and two individual men who are challenging the law.
Ria Tabacco Mar, the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), takes the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that having a male-only concept is a damaging message
A group of retired senior military officers and the National Organization for Women Foundation are urging the court to hear the case.
If the court agrees to hear the case, it would not decide whether women should register, but only whether the current system is constitutional.
If not, it’s up to Congress to decide how to respond, either by passing a law requiring everyone to register or by declaring that registration is no longer necessary.
The question of who should register for the concept has already been submitted to the court.
In 1981, the court voted 6-3 to uphold the male-only registration requirement.
At the time, the decision was something of an outlier as the court regularly invalidated gender-based distinctions in cases across other jurisdictions.
Many of those cases were brought by the founder of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who became a judge in 1993.
A graduate cadet (C) from the United States Military Academy awaits her diploma at the opening ceremony in West Point, New York on May 22. The Supreme Court previously considered the constitutionality of the draft, in 1981, but at the time women were barred from many sections of the military.
The last time the Supreme Court considered the Military Selective Service Act, then-Judge William Rehnquist explained that the purpose of the registration was “to prepare for a draft of combat troops.”
He said that because women were not allowed to serve in combat, the law did not constitute unlawful discrimination based on sex that violated the Constitution.
But military policy has changed.
In 2013, the Ministry of Defense lifted the ban on women in combat. Two years later, the department said all military positions would be open to women without exception.
Just last year, a congressional committee concluded that the ‘time is right’ to extend the registration requirement to women.
“The current unequal treatment of women unacceptably excludes women from a basic civic duty and reinforces gender stereotypes about the role of women, undermining national security,” the commission said in a report.
The Biden administration is urging the judges not to hear the case and let Congress hear the matter instead.
Administrative attorneys wrote in a brief letter that any “reconsideration of the constitutionality of the male-only registration requirement … would be premature at this time” as Congress “is actively considering the issue.”
The Selective Service System, the agency that oversees registration, said in a statement that it does not comment on pending lawsuits, but that it is “capable of carrying out any mission that Congress should impose.”
If the court agrees to hear the case, the arguments will not take place until the fall at the earliest, after the court’s summer break.
The court already has high-profile cases pending. They include a major challenge to abortion rights and a call to expand gun rights.