The political and military fallout from lifting the ban on women serving in combat roles continues, with the Commandant of the Marine Corps and the Chief of Staff of the Army averring at a congressional hearing that 18-year-old women, like 18-year old men, should now be required to register for the draft. At the GOP debate Saturday, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie agreed: fair is fair.
In a 1981 Supreme Court case that upheld requiring men but not women to register for the draft, Justice William Rehnquist noted that the purpose of a draft was to provide troops for combat, from which women were banned, and that therefore Congress was committing no constitutional violation by requiring men but not women to register.
Rehnquist’s ruling for a Court divided 6-3 had the aroma of a truffle laboriously hunted to deliver a result in favor of a traditionalist view of the military as against the modern claims of equal rights. Kick out the ban on women in combat, as the Obama administration has, and the question of the draft does indeed look different, not only to service chiefs but to Republican presidential aspirants.
The problem is that by now, we are at the point of arguing over how many imaginary draftees can dance on the head of a grenade pin. Continue reading