The court refused to hear the case brought by the National Coalition for Men and supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), instead upholding a ruling by a lower court which maintains the Pentagon policy.
The challengers behind the initial lawsuit had hoped that the Supreme Court would overrule the policy, claiming that it had been made at a time when women were prohibited from combat roles and stating that it violates the Fifth Amendment right to equal protection.
However, the Supreme Court maintained its policy of “longstanding deference to Congress on matters of national defense and military affairs,” arguing that it is yet to be seen if “Congress will end gender-based registration under the Military Selective Service Act.”
The group that brought the lawsuit was initially successful at the federal level in 2019, when a judge in Houston, Texas ruled in their favor. That decision was reversed on appeal by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, however. With the Supreme Court now rejecting the case, the group’s hopes of securing victory at the country’s highest legal level have been scuppered.
Responding to the court’s decision on Monday, the director of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, Ria Tabacco Mar, expressed disappointment over the refusal to consider the case.
“We’re disappointed the Supreme Court allowed one of the last examples of overt sex discrimination in federal law to stand. We urge Congress to update the law,” Mar said in a press release.
Under current law, men aged 18-25 who are US citizens or legal immigrants living in America are required to register for the country’s military draft, which is called the ‘Selective Service’. Failure to do so risks prosecution that could result in a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to five years.
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