For as long as women have been excluded from combat, they’ve also been exempt from having to register for the Selective Service System... But now that women are being admitted into combat units, the justification for making only young men register is on shaky ground...
...Looking to eliminate some of the confusion, the Selective Service System, which is an independent executive agency, posted a notice on its website immediately after Panetta’s briefing:
“Attention: Even though the secretary of defense has decided to allow women in combat jobs, the law has not been changed to include this. Consequently, only men are currently required to register by law with Selective Service during ages 18 thru 25. Women still do not register.”
... the Pentagon doesn’t have the authority to mandate that women ages 18 through 25 register for Selective Service, as their male counterparts must do today. Only Congress can change that law. But the Pentagon is not totally off the hook.
Whenever the defense secretary opens new combat positions to women, he’s required by law to provide Congress with a detailed analysis of the legal implications for the constitutionality of the Military Selective Service Act...
...Alhough the Selective Service law is inherently discriminatory... it was considered constitutional because women were excluded from combat. Since women wouldn’t be conscripted, they didn’t need to register. Now that women will be joining at least some combat units, Congress eventually must determine how to handle that new reality.
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