Supreme Court won't review men-only draft registration law

Shaye Haver, Kristen Griest
Posted at 10:05 AM, Jun 07, 2021

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court says it won’t take up a case that asked it to decide whether it’s sex discrimination for the government to require only men to register for the draft when they turn 18.

In a statement on Monday, three justices said Congress is weighing whether to change the Military Selective Service Act, which requires men but not women to register for the draft. They said that was a reason for the court not to take the case.

“It remains to be seen, of course, whether Congress will end gender-based registration under the Military Selective Service Act. 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. I agree with the Court’s decision to deny the petition for a writ of certiorari,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the statement.

The question of whether it’s unconstitutional to require men but not women to register could be viewed as one with little practical impact.

The last time there was a draft was during the Vietnam War, and the military has been all-volunteer since.

However, the justices did acknowledge that there has been a major shift in the role of women in the U.S. military. As of 2015, there are no longer any positions in the U.S. armed forces that are closed to women.

The justices also cited a congressional report from the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS), which was tasked with studying whether Selective Service registration should be conducted “regardless of sex.”

The report recommended eliminating male-only registration and, among other things, found that “male-only registration sends a message to women not only that they are not vital in the defense of the country by also that they are not expected to participate in defending it,” according to the court.