A federal judge in Houston has ruled that a military draft that only applies to men is unconstitutional, according to the New York Times. The ruling cited the fact that women are now allowed to serve in combat roles.
From the Times:
Judge Gray H. Miller of Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas took note of the Supreme Court’s 1981 ruling that the exclusion of women from the draft was “fully justified” because women then were not allowed to serve in combat. But the Pentagon abolished those restrictions in 2015, opening the way for women to serve in any military role for which they could qualify.
“While historical restrictions on women in the military may have justified past discrimination, men and women are now ‘similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft,’” Judge Miller wrote. “If there ever was a time to discuss ‘the place of women in the Armed Services,’ that time has passed.”
At the moment, this decision doesn’t mean much—there hasn’t been a draft in the U.S. since Vietnam. However, draft-aged men are currently required to register with the military in case there is a draft. Not registering can incur fines and make it difficult to get student loans. It can even lead to prison time.
The lawsuit that led to the ruling was brought by the National Coalition for Men, a men’s rights organization that, among other things, publishes pictures of women who they believe have falsely accused men of rape.
Miller’s ruling was declaratory, meaning it didn’t require specific actions. It’s unclear when and if women who are currently draft age would need to register.
The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service is currently reconsidering the draft and whether it should continue as it stands.
“Personally, I don’t think we will remain with the status quo,” commission chairman Joe Heck told USA Today in January. “But where we end up on the spectrum is yet to be determined.”