With women in combat roles, a federal court rules the male-only draft unconstitutional; Rose Law Group litigator Evan Bolick weighs in

A female US Navy engineer on guard duty during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2009. / U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael Lindsey. / Wikipedia

By Gregory Korte | USA TODAY

A federal judge in Texas has declared that an all-male military draft is unconstitutional, ruling that “the time has passed” for a debate on whether women belong in the military.

The decision deals the biggest legal blow to the Selective Service System since the Supreme Court upheld the draft registration process in 1981. In Rostker v. Goldberg, the court ruled that a male-only draft was “fully justified” because women were ineligible for combat roles.

But U.S. District Judge Gray Miller ruled late Friday that while historical restrictions on women serving in combat “may have justified past discrimination,” men and women are now equally able to fight. In 2015, the Pentagon lifted all restrictions for women in military service.

The case was brought by the National Coalition For Men, a men’s rights group, and two men who argued an all-male draft was unfair.


“Although the ramifications in this case are relatively small considering that the U.S. has not imposed a draft in decades, legal scholars will be closely reviewing this decision for any holding or legal analysis that can support their arguments in other similarly contentious issues, such as whether the government can prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the military. This ruling suggests that courts will not be wholly deferential to governmental arguments and will actively question any assertions made by the government in imposing gender-based restrictions on military service.”

~Evan Bolick