Women may soon have a new ritual on their 18th birthday: signing up for Selective Service. A federal judge in Texas ruled Friday that the current system—which requires men age 18-25 to sign up—violates the Fifth Amendment's due process clause of right to life, liberty, and property, the Times of San Diego reports. "Women are now allowed in combat, so this decision is long overdue," says Marc Angelucci, an attorney for the National Coalition for Men, a men's right's group and plaintiff in the case. "After decades of sex discrimination against men in the Selective Service, the courts have finally found it unconstitutional to force only men to register." Angelucci notes that men still face denial of federal loans, fines, and even prison time if they fail to register.
No man has faced prosecution for failing to register in decades, but a young Texan named James Lesmeister filed the lawsuit in 2013 anyway; a San Diego resident and the San Diego-based National Coalition for Men later joined in, per Military.com. In his ruling, Judge Gray Miller said "the time has passed" to debate women in the military and quoted the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage in opposing the draft's gender restriction, notes USA Today. But his ruling is a declaratory judgment, not an injunction, so it doesn't force the federal government's hand—yet it does make a statement. "Either they need to get rid of the draft registration, or they need to require women to do the same thing that men do," says Angelucci. America hasn't had an actual draft since 1973, but young men are still expected to make themselves available for war. (Read more US military stories.)