Washington: The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear an appeal questioning whether the requirement that men – and not women – register for the military draft is constitutional in a case that challenged one of the last sex-based classifications in federal law.
Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the decision is for Congress to make – for now.
“It remains to be seen, of course, whether Congress will end gender-based registration under the Military Selective Service Act,” Sotomayor wrote in a statement joined by Associate Justices Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh. “But at least for now, the court’s longstanding deference to Congress on matters of national defense and military affairs cautions against granting review while Congress actively weighs the issue.”
Forty years ago, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of requiring men – and only men – to register for the draft through the Selective Service System because, the justices reasoned at the time, the purpose of a draft is to build a pool of combat troops.
Back then, that meant men. Not any longer.
The Department of Defense formally lifted the ban on women in combat in 2015. And so the question before the court was whether a male-only registration requirement violates the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.
The Selective Service System, a federal agency, told the court that reconsidering male-only draft registration would be “premature.”