A federal judge has ruled that it is unconstitutional to have a male-only draft, especially now that women have served in combat roles in the U.S. military since 2015.
The decision could eventually force the federal government to either scrap the Selective Service System or change it to draft females as well as males.
The court ruling does not mean that the system will immediately begin forcing teenaged girls to sign up for the draft, but it does set the stage for possible future changes.
According to USA Today:
The decision deals the biggest legal blow to the Selective Service System since the Supreme Court upheld the draft registration process in 1981. In Rostker v. Goldberg, the court ruled that a male-only draft was “fully justified” because women were ineligible for combat roles.
But U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled late Friday that while historical restrictions on women serving in combat “may have justified past discrimination,” men and women are now equally able to fight. In 2015, the Pentagon lifted all restrictions for women in military service.
The case was brought by a men’s group called the National Coalition For Men, that argued that the male-only draft was unfair.
Judge Miller agreed with the group’s position. Miller wrote, “if there ever was a time to discuss ‘the place of women in the Armed Services,’ that time has passed.”
The judge continued saying, “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,” adding, “combat roles no longer uniformly require sheer size or muscle.”
Since the ruling did not require the government to actually do anything, it was symbolic.
The lawyer for the men’s group, Marc Angelucci, admitted as much.
“Yes, to some extend this is symbolic, but it does have some real-world impact. Either they need to get rid of the draft legislation, or they need to require women to do the same thing that men do,” Angelucci said.
Still, this ruling could be the first in a series of rulings that eventually force action.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.