Federal judge rules male-only draft unconstitutional

Laurel Kraus, Managing Editor

Compulsory service, or mandatory military service for a period of time, is currently a requirement for all citizens in various countries including Norway and Israel.

A United States Federal Court judge, Gray H. Miller, ruled last week that it is unconstitutional for males to be required to register for selective service if females are not also required.

When the United States Supreme Court last voted for the draft registration process to be upheld in 1981, women were not yet allowed in combat roles as they are now, which has largely become the basis of this argument according to Eric Wuestenberg, coordinator of Veteran Support Services at Oakland University.

“My personal opinion is, women have fought so hard to be able to have the same opportunities as males, that if it is required for men, then it should be required for women,” he said.

The next step in this process will likely be an attempt at an appeal through a circuit court of appeals.

“After watching a number of cases work through the system, through the federal courts, I’ve learned to say that it’s impossible to predict,” said David Dulio, director of the Center for Civic Engagement and political science professor, regarding the potential success of an appeal. “I think both sides will have a case to make, I think it’ll be interesting to see the way the federal government approaches any possible appeal.”

He reported that it is especially important to understand the United States does not even have a draft right now, the last occuring in 1973 during the Vietnam War.

Wuestenberg and OU student veteran Austin Taylor feel that the only reason anyone would be nervous to register for selective service would be due to a lack of information on what that really entails.

“People hear selective service, or draft, and they get scared,” Taylor said. “They associate military and that instantly means shooting and killing and front lines.”

Wuestenberg reported that only around 30 percent of United States service members are in combat roles, while far less actually see combat.

“I think what selective service in general, what people get uncomfortable with, is oh Susie may go off to combat,” he said. “And no, Susie may get drafted, but Susie may not go to war and if she does, maybe not on the front lines. Even when we deploy to a combat zone, [it] doesn’t mean we’re on the front lines.”

If the ruling is left to stand, the ages for registration would likely be 18-25 as it currently is for males.

“I think it’s important to note that, as it stands, there’s no immediate action that’s going to take place,” Dulio said. “Now that might change once the case is finalized, but at some point if that ruling stands either on its own or through appeal, the U.S. government would have to take steps to require women to register for selective service.”