The United States has a long history of drafting men into the military in times of need — and now, some are wondering whether the practice should apply to women, as well.
According to the Associated Press, the National Coalition For Men and two male plaintiffs have been hoping to take their case challenging the Military Service Act all the way to the highest court in the land. But in a bombshell move Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it had opted not to hear the case.
The plaintiffs in the case have been represented by attorney Ria Tabacco Mar, who insists that the law imposes an unconstitutional standard by exempting women from conscription.
According to the AP, Mar argued that the differing rules place a “serious burden on men that’s not being imposed on women.”
Still, Mar — who serves as director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project — contends that men are not the only ones being negatively impacted.
“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,” she said of the law, as the AP reported.
“We think those stereotypes demean both men and women,” the lawyer continued, saying that the law sends a “really damaging message,” even though no one is currently being drafted.
Of course, this is not the first time that America’s highest court has been asked to weigh in on the issue of the draft. According to The New York Times, the SCOTUS previously ruled in 1981 that an exclusively male draft is constitutional.
Writing for the majority in Rostker v. Goldberg, then-Justice William Rehnquist said “Congress acted well within its constitutional authority when it authorized the registration of men, and not women, under the Military Selective Service Act.”
As the Times reported, much of the reasoning for the justices’ decision in Goldberg revolved around the fact that female service members have historically been excluded from combat roles, but that policy changed in 2013.
What’s more, the AP notes that a congressional commission declared in 2020 that the “time is right” to compel women to register with the Selective Service System.
“The current disparate treatment of women unacceptably excludes women from a fundamental civic obligation and reinforces gender stereotypes about the role of women, undermining national security,” a report from the commission read, according to the AP.