Judge rules women are not exempt from draft registration

Female soldiers carry out a ruck march in 2011 at Fort Bragg, N.C.

(Compiled from CNN Wire and UPI) – US District Court Judge Gray Miller ruled late Friday, Feb. 22, that the Military Selective Service Act’s male-only registration is unconstitutional.

The challenge was brought by a men’s rights advocacy group known as National Coalition for Men and two men subject to the registration requirements. The organization is seeking an injunction that orders the Selective Service System to require that registration for the draft be extended to include women.

Miller noted that the Supreme Court, in 1981, excluded women from the draft because they were ineligible for combat duty. Since they are now eligible, and since a draft is typically required when combat positions need to be filled, excluding women from draft registration is incorrect.

“Women’s opportunities in the military have expanded dramatically,” Miller wrote in his 19-page decision. “In 2013 the Department of Defense officially lifted the ban on women in combat. In 2015 the Department of Defense lifted all gender-based restrictions on military service. Thus, women are now eligible for all military service roles, including combat positions.

“In short,” he concluded, “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.’ … If there ever was a time to discuss ‘the place of women in the Armed Services, that time has passed.’ … Defendants have not carried the burden of showing that the male-only registration requirement continues to be substantially related to Congress’s objective of raising and supporting armies.”

Miller did not issue an injunction against the federal policy.

A National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service has been studying issue.

Although the draft ended in 1973, all U.S. men between ages 18 and 26 must still register with the Selective Service System so that if military conscription became warranted, it could quickly begin.

(Note:  District Judge Gray Miller was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006 for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.)

Compiled from articles by CNN Wire at Chicago’s WGN9 and by Ed Adamczyk at UPI on Feb. 25. Reprinted here for educational purposes only.


1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)

2. Who brought the suit?

3. For what reasons did the judge deny the government’s (defendants’) request for a stay? What did he say? Be specific.

4. a) What is the selective service?
b) When did the draft end?
c) Why were women specifically excluded from the draft by the Supreme Court in 1981?

5. The Obama administration in 2013 and 2015 lifted the ban on women in combat.
a) Men in the military might not have the opportunity to avoid combat in a war zone. Should women in the military have the choice on whether to be in combat positions? Explain your answer.
b) Do you think, as women in the military are eligible for combat, that all women – not just those who join the military – should be required to sign up for selective service and then be susceptible to the draft should it ever be reinstated? Explain your answer.
c) Do you think there is a difference between women who join the military knowing they might possibly be assigned to a combat role and 18-26 year old women being required to sign up for the draft? Explain your answer.

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