Speed Reads

Rough Draft

Judge rules that America's male-only military draft is now unconstitutional

A federal judge in Houston has ruled that a military draft that includes only men is unconstitutional now that women are allowed to serve in combat. "While historical restrictions on women in the military may have justified past discrimination, men and women are now 'similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft,'" wrote U.S. District Judge Gray Miller. "If there ever was a time to discuss 'the place of women in the Armed Services,' that time has passed."

Nobody has been conscripted into U.S. military service in more than 40 years, but if American men don't register for selective service when they turn 18, the consequences can include fines, imprisonment, and denied student loans and other services, The New York Times notes. There were some negative reactions to the ruling — Federalist publisher Ben Domenech, for example, warned that "they are going to draft your daughters for their forever wars" — but Kate Germano, a retired Marine, told the Times on Sunday that including women in the draft "would be an advantage to the country," where women slightly outnumber men. "Why not leverage all of the talent pool?" she asked.

A men's rights group, the National Coalition for Men, had challenged the male-only draft, upheld by the Supreme Court in 1981 — 34 years before the Pentagon opened combat service to women in 2015. Judge Miller's ruling does not compel the government to take any action, and a federal advisory committee looking at the issue may separately recommend modifying or scrapping the draft entirely.