By Jon Dougherty
The chairman of a congressional committee charged with reviewing the country’s Selective Service military draft said a federal court ruling last week means that changes are very likely coming to the system.
On Friday, a federal court judge ruled that the all-male draft system established decades ago by Congress is unconstitutional because it does not require females to register. According to U.S. District Judge Gray Miller of the Southern District of Texas, the current law is a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s due process requirements.
“The district court’s opinion means change is inevitable and the status quo is untenable,” Joe Heck, chairman of the bipartisan National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, said Monday.
For now, the law will remain in effect as the government figures out whether to appeal to the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans, which seems likely given that the military draft is a major national security requirement.
The Washington Examiner noted further:
The ruling last week came as a result of a 2013 lawsuit filed by two draft-age men who argued requiring only men to register for the draft was a form of discrimination on the basis of sex and therefore a violation of the Constitution.
For now, Miller’s ruling stopped short of ordering the government to begin making women register for conscription. But that’s one option that is clearly on the horizon and a major driver of the lawsuit.
“The Commission is studying a wide range of possible changes, including not only whether women should register, but whether the nation even needs a registration system,” said Heck in a statement responding to the Texas case.
The commission, which has been studying the issues for two years, is charged with making its final recommendations to Congress by March 2020.
The panel is considering recommending several proposals, including expanding the registration requirement to include women, identifying individuals who possess critical skills, using the existing system to call on volunteers during times of emergency, and incorporating reasonable changes to accommodate people who object to military service but are otherwise willing to serve.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10
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