by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Obama administration’s decision to open up all combat roles to women has led to a heated debate over whether women should have to register for the draft and has sparked both legislation and legal action that could change the Selective Service’s rules.
It remains to be seen what the impact of Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s December order compelling all services to allow women into combat roles will be on Selective Service registration, which is currently only required for men. Dual lawsuits are challenging the constitutionality of the Selective Service Act, and new legislation in Congress also seeks to encourage debate on women’s role in the draft.
Reps. Duncan Hunter (R., Calif.) and Ryan Zinke (R., Mt.), both of whom opposed the administration’s decision to open up combat roles to women, introduced a bill last week that would require women ages 18 to 26 to register for the Selective Service. The lawmakers, both of them military veterans, said that Carter’s order forced the issue.
“This discussion wouldn’t be happening if the administration didn’t force the services to integrate combat arms by decree. And it’s hard to find anyone who is enthusiastic about compelling draft registration for women, but the administration up to now has made this all about equality and fairness,” Hunter, a Marine reserve officer, told the Washington Free Beacon in a statement. “So in that regard, the decision to integrate combat units without exception has prompted the necessity to now discuss whether women should be required to register with the selective service.”
“This is the dilemma that the administration created and obviously it failed to think things through all the way,” Hunter added.