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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court is being asked to decide whether the government is gender-discriminatory, requiring only men to register for a recruiting office when they turn 18.
The question of whether the requirement to register men rather than women is unconstitutional can be viewed as a matter of no practical relevance. The last time he was drafted into the army was during the Vietnam War, and since then all the military have been volunteers. But the registration requirement is one of the few remaining places where federal law treats men and women differently, and women’s groups are among those who argue it is harmful to allow him to stay put.
The judges can tell as early as Monday if they will hear happening including the Military Elective Service Act, which requires men to register for conscription.
Ria Tabakko Mar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, which is urging the court to address the issue, says that requiring men to register places “a serious burden on men that does not place on women.”
Men who are not register may lose eligibility for student loans and government employment, and failing to register is also a felony, punishable by a fine of up to $ 250,000 and five years in prison. But Tabacco Mar says demanding only men does more than that.
“It also sends an extremely harmful signal that women are less fit than men to serve their country in this special way, and conversely that men are less fit than women to stay at home as caregivers. in the event of an armed conflict. We think these stereotypes demean both men and women, ”she said.
Even if the project is never used again, keeping the requirement for men only will send a “really damaging signal,” said Tabacco Mar, representing the National Coalition of Men and two separate men challenging the law.
A group of retired senior officers and the National Women’s Organization Foundation, among others, are calling on the court to hear the case.
If the court agrees to consider the case, it will decide not whether women should register, but only whether the current system is constitutional. If this is not the case, then Congress will have to decide how to react, either by passing legislation requiring everyone to register, or deciding that registration is no longer needed.
The question of who should register for a conscript has already been considered in court. In 1981, the court upheld the requirement to register only men by 6 votes to 3. At the time, this decision was somewhat unusual, because the court regularly invalidated gender differences in cases involving other areas of the law. Many of these cases were filed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Founding Director of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, who became a judge in 1993.
The last time the Supreme Court reviewed the Election Military Service Act, then-judge William Renquist explained that the purpose of registration “was to prepare for conscription.” He said that since women cannot participate in hostilities, the law does not constitute illegal gender discrimination that violates the Constitution.
But military policy has changed. In 2013, the Department of Defense lifted the ban on women participating in hostilities. Two years later, the department announced that all military roles would be open to women, without exception.
Just last year, a congressional commission concluded it was “time” to extend the registration obligation to women. “The current unequal treatment of women unacceptably excludes women from fundamental civic obligations and reinforces gender stereotypes regarding the role of women, undermining national security,” This is stated in the message of the commission.
The Biden administration is urging judges to ignore the case and let Congress get down to business. Administration lawyers concisely wrote that any “review of the constitutionality of the male-only registration requirement … would be premature at this time” because Congress is “actively considering” the issue.
The Selective Service System, the agency that oversees the registrations, said in a statement that it will not comment on the pending litigation, but “is capable of carrying out any mission that Congress has to entrust.”
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If the court agrees to accept the case for consideration, the disputes will not begin until autumn, after the summer break in the court. At that time, high-profile cases were already awaiting the court. They include a serious challenge to the right to abortion and call for arms rights…
Project Case – National Coalition of Men Against Electoral Service, 20-928.
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