The Pentagon’s decision to allow women to join combat units is expected to reopen a legal debate the Supreme Court settled in 1981: Should women have to register with the government so it knows where to find them in the event of a new draft?
The Pentagon and the Selective Service, which keeps a roster of prospective male enlistees, say it’s too early to tell.
“Until Congress and the president make a change, we will continue doing what we’re doing,” Richard S. Flahavan, a Selective Service spokesman, said Friday. Namely, that means sticking to registering only male U.S. citizens and permanent residents ages 18 to 25.
Here’s a bit of history on women and the draft, from the Selective Service’s Web site. President Jimmy Carter reestablished the Selective Service in 1980 after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, raising the specter of a new global war. It was the most recent activation of a draft database established by Congress in 1917. Its resurgence spooked many Americans, coming seven years after the end of the draft triggered by the Vietnam War.