A federal judge in Texas has ruled the all-male military draft unconstitutional, a move that some leaders say is a blow to gender equality, not a win for it.
Judge Gray H. Miller of Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas said earlier this week that the “time has passed” for debate on whether women belong in the military.
In 2015 the Pentagon lifted all restrictions for women in service, making them eligible for combat. It follows that if women are as eligible for combat as men, then legally they are also just as eligible for a draft, Miller ruled.
No one has been conscripted into military service since the draft was discontinued in 1973 — in the time since, military service has been completely voluntary. But draft registration was reinstated in 1981 through Selective Service and, since then, men have been required to register on their 18th birthday or face the possibility of being denied benefits like government jobs or student loans. Once they register, they can be drafted up to age 25.
In Miller’s official opinion, women should be asked to do the same, then called up to fight in the event of a draft.
His ruling in the case — brought by the National Coalition For Men, a men’s rights group, and two men who argued against the fairness of an all-male draft — is declaratory, not an injunction that Selective Service has to follow.
Mike Whitehead, a former captain of the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps said Congress still has time to address the issue and eventually the Supreme Court may have to weigh in.
The American culture has long “valued women for their special roles in society but has not historically compelled them to fight our wars,” Whitehead said. “Treating women differently in ways they are different is not invidious discrimination. Myopic views of sexual equality above all else lose sight of other cultural values we should fight to preserve.”
At the time of Miller’s ruling, an advisory panel — the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service — was in the process of weighing whether or not women should be included in any future drafts.
“Personally, I don’t think we will remain with the status quo,” Joe Heck, the chairman of the commission, told USA Today in January. “But where we end up on the spectrum is yet to be determined.”
— by Grace Thornton | BP