On Friday, a Texas judge ruled that the Selective Service System (SSS) violates the Constitution by requiring only men to register for the draft. The court ruled with the National Coalition for Men (NCFM) in a lawsuit claiming the male-only draft constitutes discrimination against men. NCFM’s lawyer told PJ Media that even if the SSS appeals, they are likely to lose again. He also suggested the Pentagon will not end the draft, so women may have to register.
“The male-only registration requirement of the Military Selective Service Act … violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution,” U.S. District Judge Gray H. Miller ruled on Friday.
Marc Angelucci, NCFM’s lawyer, told PJ Media he does not know whether or not the Selective Service will appeal. “I don’t think they’ll win an appeal,” he said.
If the ruling stands, the Pentagon will either have to scrap the draft altogether or force women to register. “They could do either of those, but I don’t think they’ll get rid of the draft because the Pentagon is arguing strongly to keep the draft,” Angelucci said.
“We take the position that if women are in combat then they should have to register for the draft,” the lawyer explained. “There’s no more excuse to discriminate against men because women are in combat.”
Even if women were not allowed in combat, they could still be drafted for non-combat duties. “If they’re not in combat, they should still have to register because they can have non-combat roles,” Angelucci said.
Ironically, this almost happened during World War II. In January 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress to amend the Military Selective Service Act in order to draft women to meet a growing need for nurses in France. In March of that year, the House of Representatives passed such a bill, but the Senate delayed a vote and in May, Under Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson asked the Senate to shelve the bill. Nurses then volunteered to meet the need.
In 1981, the Supreme Court ruled that women could be exempted from the draft because they were not allowed to serve in combat.
Men face severe penalties for refusing to register. As the draft’s website puts it, “It’s what a man’s got to do. By registering, a young man stays eligible for jobs, college loans and job grants, job training, driver’s license in most states, and U.S. citizenship for most immigrant men.”
According to the lawsuit, there are about 16 million men currently registered for the draft. These men are “on call” soldiers until they turn 26. The SSS calls this “voluntary participation,” but the judge declared it “unconstitutional.”
In a press release on the victory, the National Coalition for Men explained why fighting this discrimination is important. “Forcing only males to register is an aspect of socially institutionalized male disposability and helps reinforce the stereotypes that support discrimination against men in other areas such as child custody, divorce, criminal sentencing, paternity fraud, education, public benefits, domestic violence services, due process rights, genital autonomy, and more.”
“Even without a draft, men still face prison, fines, and denial of federal loans for not registering or for not updating the government of their whereabouts,” Angelucci explained. “Since women will be required to register with the Selective Service, they should face the same repercussions as men for any noncompliance.”
In her article breaking the news of the lawsuit back in September, PJ Media’s Toni Airaksinen quoted Warren Farrell — author of The Myth of Male Power (1993) — who ties the draft to a cultural trend of treating men as “the disposable sex” in society, a facet of “unconscious sexism” against men.
“Males aren’t expendable—we need them to be willing to protect us in war, fighting fires and in all the hazardous jobs—but when they come home with PTSD, they’re disposable, and calling men heroes if they sacrifice their life is a social bribe,” Farrell told PJ Media.
“In school, your son learns that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal protection for both sexes, but when your son turns eighteen, he discovers that only he and other boys will be required by U.S. law to register for the draft,” Farrell writes in his most recent book, The Boy Crisis (co-authored with John Gray, Ph.D.).
“The catch-22 of your son as hero is that the more he becomes a hero as a killer, the less likely he is to become a hero as a husband… what he does to be loved [by the country] often divorces him from love [by his partner],” he added.
Angelucci said NCFM’s victory in this lawsuit “will help push back against male disposability.”
“It’s hard to say how much, but I think it’s one step — you might say, one big brick knocked out of the wall,” the lawyer added. “I don’t think it’s going to be what knocks the whole thing down but it’s a great step in the right direction.”
Last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) attacked the National Coalition for Men, smearing it as a group dedicated to “Male Supremacy.” Angelucci responded to this attack.
“We have women on our board, we have liberals and conservatives. It is absolute nonsense what they say about us,” the lawyer told PJ Media. “We’ve only ever asked for equal rights. They have to smear and lie instead of debate substance. That’s pretty much how they operate.”
Ironically, the SPLC honored Angelucci himself for his public interest work in mental health law. His biography page on NCFM’s website references the honor:
The Southern Poverty Law Center invited him to be an Honoree on their Wall of Tolerance, co-sponsored by Rosa Parks and Morris Dees.
On the issue of the male-only draft, Congress considered a bill forcing women to register back in 2016.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) — now the House majority leader — told The Hill that women should be forced to register for the draft as a matter of equality.
“Women ought to be treated equally,” Hoyer said. “If you’re going to have Selective Service registration continue, and you’re going to have women available to serve in the armed forces in either front-line capacity or support capacity — or both, which I think is now the case legally — then I think it makes sense to have eligible individuals, male or female, register as long as you have registration.”
Many Democrats expressed their desire to end the draft altogether. Indeed, that move seems more fitting with America’s volunteer military culture. Parents across the nation will likely be outraged to hear their daughters will have to register for the draft. If Angelucci is correct, however, that seems rather likely.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.