A federal judge has determined that the all-male draft is unconstitutional, ruling that “the time has passed” for debating whether women should be in the military. The decision was rendered on Friday, asserting that while past restrictions on women serving in certain capacities “may have justified past discrimination,” both sexes are now equally allowed to serve.
Texas US District Judge Gray H. Miller delivered the ruling based on a 2013 lawsuit filing against the Texas Selective Service System, which was filed by James Lesmeister, according to a report by the Daily Mail. Anthony Davis, a San Diego resident, later joined the suit.
Both men were within the 18 to 26-year-old age range designated by the government for registering for the draft.
Miller’s ruling could be the start of the end for the current Selective Service System, which was originally upheld by the Supreme Court in 1981. The Supreme Court ruled on Rostker v. Goldberg at that time, determining the all-male draft was “fully justified” because women were unable to fill combat roles.
The Pentagon lifted restrictions against women serving in combat in 2015.
Men who do not register for the draft when they turn 18 can be denied access to certain public benefits, ranging from federal employment opportunities to student loans offered by the government.
Women are currently not required, or able, to sign up with the Selective Service System, though can volunteer to join the military.
Miller’s ruling comes while an 11-member commission is reviewing draft requirements to determine the program’s future, including whether women should be required to sign up or whether the draft should exist at all.
Last month, the National Commission on Military, National and Public Service did release an interim report, though it is not known where they stand.
However, Joe Heck, the commission chairman, did state, “I don’t think we will remain with the status quo.”
The US government had argued that the court in Texas should have delayed its ruling until the commission was able to issue a recommendation, though that was not expected to be available until 2020.
Additionally, the commission is functioning in an advisory role only, so there is no guarantee that Congress would agree with the recommendation or follow through once it was made.
Miller denied the request, noting that Congress has yet to fully examine whether men are better suited to serve than women.
“The average woman could conceivably be better suited physically for some of today’s combat positions than the average man, depending on which skills the position required,” said Miller. “Combat roles no longer uniformly require sheer size or muscle.”