SCOTUS Declines to Review Male Only Draft Registration

SCOTUS Declines to Review Male Only Draft Registration
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to the male-only military draft system, which critics have called a discriminatory rule.

From American Military News:

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court said it won’t take a case, brought by the National Coalition For Men, which challenged the constitutionality of the male-only draft.

In a decision with no noted dissenting opinions, the court declined to take the case. In the opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the court had decided to defer the matter to Congress, as it “actively weighs the issue.”

The court’s decision comes amid a renewed push by some interest groups to open the draft to women.

From Fox News:

The question of whether it’s unconstitutional to require men but not women to register could be viewed as one with little practical impact. The last time there was a draft was during the Vietnam War, and the military has been all-volunteer 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 arguing that allowing it to stand is harmful.

The justices could say as soon as Monday whether they will hear a case involving the Military Selective Service Act, which requires men to register for the draft.

The case was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, who urged the court to take up up the issue because the law in its current form imposes a “serious burden on men that’s not being imposed on women.”

While the government has not used the draft in decades, failing to register for it has serious implications that currently only fall on men:

Men who do not register can lose eligibility for student loans and civil service jobs, and failing to register is also a felony punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and five years in prison.

Ria Tabacco Mar, who directs the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, also argued that the male-only draft requirement sends “a tremendously harmful message that women are less fit than men to serve their country in this particular way and conversely that men are less fit than women to stay home as caregivers in the event of an armed conflict. We think those stereotypes demean both men and women.”

The Supreme Court has in the past upheld the male-only requirement for draft registration, most recently in 1981 when a 6-3 ruling upheld the requirement.

But military policy has since changed for the volunteer force, with the military opening most combat jobs to women in recent years. The changes have sparked a change of thinking about the draft as well, with a congressional commission concluding last year the the “time is right” to extend the registration requirement to women.


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