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7 Jun, 2021 16:30

US Supreme Court rejects men’s group lawsuit over ‘outdated and sexist’ all-male military draft

US Supreme Court rejects men’s group lawsuit over ‘outdated and sexist’ all-male military draft

The US Supreme Court has rejected hearing a lawsuit brought by a men’s rights group challenging the legality of America’s all-male military draft, claiming that it is unconstitutional by discriminating on the basis of sex.

The court refused to hear the case brought by the National Coalition for Men and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), instead upholding a ruling by a lower court which maintains the Pentagon policy.

The challengers behind the initial lawsuit had hoped that the Supreme Court would overrule the policy, claiming that it had been made at a time when women were prohibited from combat roles and stating that it violates the Fifth Amendment right to equal protection. 

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Explaining the court’s decision, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh said that the issue was currently being discussed by US lawmakers. The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS) had recommended eliminating the male-only registration in its March 2020 final report, and the Democrat chair of the Senate Armed Services committee recently said he wanted gender-neutral registration included in the next Pentagon funding bill, they wrote.

It remains to be seen whether and when the lawmakers will amend the Military Selective Service Act, but “at least for now, the Court’s long-standing deference to Congress on matters of national defense and military affairs cautions against granting review while Congress actively weighs the issue,” the three justices wrote.

The group that brought the lawsuit was initially successful at the federal level in 2019, when a judge in Houston, Texas ruled in their favor. That decision was reversed on appeal by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, however. With the Supreme Court now rejecting the case, the group’s hopes of securing victory at the country’s highest legal level have been scuppered.

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Responding to the court’s decision on Monday, the director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, Ria Tabacco Mar, expressed disappointment over the refusal to consider the case. 

“We’re disappointed the Supreme Court allowed one of the last examples of overt sex discrimination in federal law to stand. We urge Congress to update the law,” Mar said in a press release.

Under current law, men aged 18-25 who are US citizens or legal immigrants living in America are required to register for the country’s military draft, which is called the ‘Selective Service’. Failure to do so risks prosecution that could result in a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to five years. 

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