"... but it is difficult to say we have true equality if we continue with a Selective Service system that only requires compulsory service from men."
Said Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The chair of the committee is John McCain, and he had no comment yesterday, as a spokesman said President Obama supports requiring women to register for the draft.
Registering for the draft is a symbolic ritual... until the draft becomes real. Is the symbolism of equality worth it? The government, if it ever reinstates the draft, can opt only to call up the males on the list. So why not go for equality in the symbolism? Perhaps the better question is: Why put young people through this symbolic ritual? Or: Why discriminate against men, subjecting only them to the ritual?
As for an actual draft, compelling men and women into service, I have never been able to picture Americans accepting forcing their daughters into combat. But if you allow women in combat and you force women into service, would we tolerate a system in which, when it comes to combat, women have a choice and men do not?
(I've thought about these questions a lot, because Rostker v. Goldberg comes up in Conlaw2. That's the 1981 case that said males-only registration doesn't violate the Equal Protection Clause. And for the record: My mother was a WAC in WW2.)