Supreme Court Asked To Review Draft Law

( Supreme Court justices may reveal this week whether they intend to take u a case that would consider whether men and women should have to register for the draft as soon as they turn 18 years old.

At issue is whether the current requirement that only men register for the draft at 18 discriminates based on sex. The issue at hand probably a moot point, since the draft hasn’t been used since the Vietnam War. Since then, the military has operated on a fully volunteer basis.

Still, the requirement to register for the draft remains, and it is one of the only areas where federal law treats women and men in different ways. Even women’s groups have argued recently that allowing the draft law to stand without changes is harmful.

Under the Military Selective Service Act, all men must register for the draft when they turn 18 years old. Women are not required to register.

If men fail to register, they can lose their potential eligibility for jobs in civil service or for student loans. They are also subject to be charged with a felony, which could result in them serving five years in jail and being fined up to $250,000.

The director of the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, Ria Tabacco Mar, is pushing for the Supreme Court to take up the case. She says the requirement for men to register imposes a “serious burden on men that’s not being imposed on women.”

“It’s also sending 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.”

Tabacco Mar represents two men who are challenging the law and also the National Coalition for Men. Even if the draft weren’t ever used again, keeping the requirement for men only sends a “really damaging message.”

Others who are asking the Supreme Court to take up the case are a group of senior military officers who are retired as well as the National Organization for Women Foundation.

If the Supreme Court were to take up the case, they would be making a decision on whether the current draft law is constitutional. If they decide it isn’t, Congress would need to make a decision on how to respond to it. They could either pass a new law that would require all people to register once they turn 18, or they could abandon the registration law altogether.

This wouldn’t be the first time the court would take up the issue. They voted 6-3 in 1981 to uphold the requirement that only men register.

William Rehnquist, who was a justice at the time, said the purpose of the registration “was to prepare for a draft of combat troops.” Since women weren’t allowed to serve in combat at that time, the requirement wasn’t sex discrimination that was in violation of the Constitution.

That rule changed in 2013, though, when the ban on women serving in combat was lifted by the Department of Defense.