A federal judge in Texas ruled that because women are now allowed in combat, they should have to register for the draft.
A federal judge has ruled that a law requiring only men to register for the military draft is unconstitutional. .
In Houston on Friday, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller denied the government's motion to delay a lawsuit brought by a nonprofit group for men's rights. The lawsuit, filed in November 2016,
was originally brought by the National Coalition for Men, which sought for the Selective Service System to require women to register for the draft.
Because women are now allowed in all positions, excluding them from registering for the draft made no constitutional defense, Miller said.
"Women are now eligible for and have been integrated into combat units. Thus, although Congress was previously concerned about drafting large numbers of people who were categorically ineligible for combat, this concern factually no longer justifies the [Military Selective Service Act]," Miller wrote in his ruling.
The government asked Miller to delay the case pending a report that would determine whether women should be required to register for the draft. The report isn't expected until 2020.
The National Coalition for Men said in a press release it was "pleased with the court's decision," Marc Angelucci, the coalition's attorney, said the "decision is long overdue" because women have been allowed in combat.
"After decades of sex discrimination against men in the Selective Service, the courts have finally found it unconstitutional to force only men to register," Angelucci said. "Even without a draft, men still face prison, fines and denial of federal loans for not registering or for not updating the government of their whereabouts. Since women will be required to register with the Selective Service, they should face the same repercussions as men for any noncompliance."
The draft ended in 1973, but all men in the U.S. aged 18 to 25 must register with the service so the military can call on them quickly should a draft be reinstated.
The organization challenged the law on equal protection grounds, arguing that it violated the Fifth Amendment's due process clause. The Supreme Court ruled in 1981 that only requiring men to register did not violate the clause because women were not allowed in combat. Therefore, "men and women are simply not similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft."
However, the restriction was lifted in 2015 and the Pentagon opened all combat roles to women.
Miller's decision does not immediately compel the government to implement the requirement, it only denied the government's request to delay the case.