A Republican senator is responding to the recent debate about women and the draft by planning legislation that would bar women from registering for the Selective Service.
Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) plans to introduce a bill blocking women from registering for the Selective Service after the chiefs of the Army and Marine Corps indicated that they would support requiring women to enter the draft now that the Obama administration has opened up all combat roles to female service members, according to National Review.
Lee’s bill could come as early as Thursday. The Republican lawmaker wants to eliminate the possibility that the Supreme Court could take up a lawsuit challenging the Selective Service Act and rule that, because Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered the military to open up all combat roles to women, women should also be required to enter the draft, Lee’s spokesman told National Review.
The Supreme Court previously ruled in the 1981 case Rostker v. Goldberg that the male-only requirement of the Selective Service was not unconstitutional because women were restricted from combat roles. However, in 2013, the Pentagon scrapped the ban on women serving in combat roles, and with Carter’s December announcement women can now serve in all combat jobs.
Two lawsuits are currently challenging the constitutionality of the Selective Service Act, arguing that it is discriminatory.
The legislation Lee plans to introduce would reinstate the ban on women registering for the Selective Service independent of the policy on women in combat roles. It would also make clear that Congress alone holds the power to change the statutory definition of individuals required to register for the draft.
Lee made clear this week that he opposes opening the Selective Service to women.
"I do not want to see my 15-year-old daughter drafted into the military," the Utah senator told CNS News.
Last week, two Republican congressmen, both of them military veterans, introduced legislation that would require women ages 18 to 26 to register for the Selective Service. In announcing the bill, Reps. Duncan Hunter of California and Ryan Zinke of Montana said that Carter’s order had forced the issue. Both lawmakers opposed opening up all combat roles to women, but introduced the bill so that members would be on the record about 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 told the Washington Free Beacon Tuesday.
"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."
Hunter said he may well vote against his own legislation.