Selective service law must change after court rules male-only draft unconstitutional, says commission chairman – Washington Examiner

The chairman of a congressionally created commission charged with reviewing the nation’s selective service registration system says a ruling by a federal judge in Texas spells doom for the current law, which requires only men to register for the military draft.

“The district court’s opinion means change is inevitable and the status quo is untenable,” Joe Heck, chairman of the bipartisan National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, said Monday.

The ruling last week came as a result of a 2013 lawsuit filed by two draft-age men who argued requiring only men to register for the draft was a form of discrimination on the basis of sex and therefore a violation of the Constitution.

While ruling that a male-only draft is unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller of the Southern District of Texas stopped short of ordering the government to begin making women register for conscription.

Nevertheless Heck says the ruling underscores the need for reform of the nation’s selective service system and makes the work of the commission “all the more important and relevant.” The commission was created in 2017 at the urging of the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I. It delivered an interim report last month that reached no conclusion as to whether the selective service registration requirement should be extended to women.

“The Commission is studying a wide range of possible changes, including not only whether women should register, but whether the nation even needs a registration system,” said Heck in a statement responding to the Texas case.

The commission, which has been studying the issues for two years, is charged with making its final recommendations to Congress by March 2020.

The panel is considering recommending several proposals, including expanding the registration requirement to include women, identifying individuals who possess critical skills, using the existing system to call on volunteers during times of emergency, and incorporating reasonable changes to accommodate people who object to military service but are otherwise willing to serve.

The commission has a series of four public hearings scheduled for April 24 and 25 at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

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