ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The U.S. military has been filled entirely with volunteers since 1973. But, ever since 1940, American men have registered for the draft.
If there were not enough volunteers, men could be drafted to fill spots.
According to the Selective Service System, currently, all men must register within 30 days of their 18th birthday.
But soon, for the first time in American history, will women also need to register for the draft?
"The constitutionality of excluding women was tested in the courts. A Supreme Court decision in 1981, Rostker v. Goldberg, held that registering only men did not violate the due process clause of the Constitution," the SSS explains on its website.
As U.S. law stands now, only "male persons" must register. To change that, Congress would have to rewrite the law.
But, that may be happening soon.
Roll Call reports an amendment that would require women to sign up with the Selective Service was included in the House version of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
The idea of women being included in the drafts, which has been considered controversial, has gained bipartisan support as combat roles that were closed to women opened, The Washington Post reports.
But even with the support of this idea, "Congress is leaving the details for later," according to Roll Call. As the publication points out, there's no rush since nobody has been drafted since the Vietnam War.
“It is the equal obligation of all Americans to defend the nation if called to do so. Registering women for Selective Service and, if necessary, including women in a draft acknowledges the value women bring to the U.S. armed forces and the talents, skills and abilities women would offer in defending the nation in a national emergency,” National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service chairman Joseph Heck, an Army veteran, told the Senate Armed Services Committee at a hearing, as reported by Roll Call.
As the Military Times reports, a bipartisan majority of the U.S. House's Armed Services Committee backed a proposal for women to register for the SSS, with supporters saying the need for women to be registered if a national emergency arose was long overdue.
“The current male-only registration sends a message to women not only that they are not vital to the defense of the country, but also that they are not expected to participate in defending it,” Air Force veteran and Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, who authored the amendment, said, according to The Times.
Today, women represent approximately 16 percent of the military.
In 2016, federal lawmakers tasked Heck's commission with studying the idea of drafting women. And, last year, the Military Times reports that commission recommended women for inclusion in potential draft lists.
As of right now, there is no definite answer if women will be included in military drafts, but Roll call says "the likelihood that women will have to register has increased."