SCOTUS rejects case to consider whether male-only draft is sexist and unconstitutional

UPDATE: The U.S. Supreme Court decided Monday to reject the case challenging male-only military draft registration, with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh, noting that Congress will be deciding whether to change the requirement.

The draft, a mandatory enrollment for military service that is ironically called “selective service,” may very well be unconstitutional in its current iteration.

The Supreme Court will decide whether to hear Ria Tabacco Mar’s case that the draft is sexist and “harmful,” and that it imposes an undue burden on the male population.

Mar, American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project director, argues that selective service as it stands is “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.” While perhaps unintentional, these effects “demean both men and women,” she claims.

While the draft has not been used to recruit military members since the Vietnam War, the consequences for not signing up can still affect young men to this day. If one fails to enroll when they turn 18, they can be declined federal job training, government jobs, and federal student aid. Arguably worse is the possibility of being jailed for up to 5 years and/or being forced to pay a $250,000 fine.

Immigrants who fail to enroll will also be denied citizenship.

Tabacco Mar is representing the National Coalition For Men and two men who are challenging the legal requirements of the draft.

If SCOTUS decides to hear the case, they will only decide whether it is unconstitutional to require one gender over the other to enroll. It will not, however, decide if women are required to register as well. Upon hearing their decision, Congress will then decide how to move forward.

Previous challenges to the constitutionality of the draft have seen it upheld, however given recent changes, this may no longer be the case.

In 1981, the male-only requirement of the draft was deemed lawful, as women were not allowed to serve in combat and therefore, it was not in violation of the law. However, this was changed in 2013 when gender-based military service restrictions were lifted, allowing women to serve in combat. All roles in the military are now available to women, which could ultimately be the deciding factor for the Supreme Court’s decision.

The Biden administration is not encouraging SCOTUS to hear the case, requesting that the decision be left up to Congressional action. However, even if the high court does agree to take the case, arguments would not begin until the fall.

The military has recently begun “woke” campaigns to attract people of all backgrounds and gender identities into service. In an ad that Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, bashed as “emasculated,” the United States Army tried appealing to the LGBTQ+ audience using the story of “Emma,” a soldier who bragged about having two mothers.

“This material is aimed not at recruiting, as it should have been, but at trying to show something that is not a core principle of defending our nation. Who’s going to rethink joining after this?” John Wagner, a former Army public affairs officer said of the video.

It didn’t take long for the comments to be disabled as backlash mounted. Many even compared it to the Russian Military Recruitment Video, which pictured masculine young men training for battle.

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