At age 18, every American man gets a card in the mail from the federal government notifying him of the requirement to sign up for the Selective Service—commonly known as "the draft." Women have always been excluded from this rite of passage, but New York lawyer Roy den Hollander is on a mission to change that.
Hollander, a self-described "anti-feminist" lawyer, is planning a class-action lawsuit to force the federal government to include women in mandatory draft registration.
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The only problem is that Hollander can’t find any women to join his lawsuit. For the past year, Hollander has been trying to find a female plaintiff between ages 18 and 25 to act as the lead representative of his case.
"It’s kind of like dating," he explained in an interview. "First they say yes, then no, then maybe, then no."
In response to a reporter’s observation that women’s groups do not seem to like him very much, Hollander responded, "I think that might be the problem."
Hollander has made headlines by filing challenges to things such as ladies’ nights at bars, arguing they amount to gender discrimination.
"There's no justice for guys in this day and age," Hollander, 67, said after a court threw out his case alleging age and gender discrimination because a New York nightclub forced him to buy bottle service to enter while allowing young women to walk in for free.
An appeals court threw out two of his other lawsuits to halt federal funding of Columbia University's feminist studies program. Hollander argued that feminism constitutes a "modern-day religion."
In a follow-up email to the Washington Free Beacon, Hollander sent along a list of the kinds of women he has attempted—and failed—to recruit for his case. The extensive catalogue included entries such as "Girl rugby players," "Sororities," and "Prof. Camille Paglia."
"Even [novelist] Erica Jong dissed my efforts," Hollander wrote.
In 1981, the Supreme Court ruled the federal government could require only males to register for the draft. The court based its ruling partly on Pentagon policy barring women from combat roles.
Hollander argues that "since then, the statutes have been repealed and the Pentagon’s policy has changed, so the court’s reasoning no longer applies." He says exempting women from draft registration amounts to a violation of their equal protection rights under the Constitution.
Hollander notes that the National Organization of Women filed an amicus brief in the 1981 Supreme Court case.
NOW also testified before Congress that "omission from the registration and draft ultimately robs women of the right to first-class citizenship. … Because men exclude women here, they justify excluding women from the decision-making of our nation."
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D., N.Y.) has repeatedly introduced bills to reinstate the draft, including for women.
Hollander’s previous quixotic quest to end ladies’ nights at bars has ostensible allies as well. Two University of North Carolina students have begun a campaign to end them, calling the practice "inherently sexist."