- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

BOSTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) — Five young people in Massachusetts have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have the U.S. Selective Service System registration law declared unconstitutional.

The plaintiffs, including a teenage girl, say the law violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection by requiring only males to register for the draft, it was reported Friday.

"If people want women's rights, they should want it wholeheartedly, including for women to have to fight in wars," said Nicole Foley, 17.

Her stepfather, civil rights attorney Harvey A. Schwartz, said the purpose of the suit was not to get young women registered, but to have the law ruled unconstitutional.

However, Foley acknowledged the suit could prompt Congress to change the law to require young women also to register.

"If you say women have the same rights as men," Foley said, "you're going to have to take the good with the bad."

Foley and her stepbrother, Samuel Schwartz, came up with the idea when he had to register last spring when he turned 18.

"I think it's unfair that I have this burden and obligation to fight if there's a war and she doesn't," he said.

They were joined in the suit by friends Douglas Scandrett, 19; Joseph D. Monty Jr., 20; and Evan Simons, 18.

In 1981, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that the law did not violate the Constitution, and that Congress had the right to exclude women from the draft because they played a very limited role in the military at that time.

"Times have changed dramatically," Samuel Schwartz said. "It's time for another look."

He said that according to Pentagon statistics, there were more than 212,000 females on active duty last year, 15 percent of the armed forces.

"The role of women in the military has completely changed," he said.

The draft registration was suspended in 1973, placed in "deep standby" in 1975, but reactivated by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.

It requires men to register within a month of their 18th birthday. Men who fail to do so can be fined and imprisoned, as well as barred from federal and state jobs and student loans.

While Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said there is no chance the draft will be reinstated, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., filed a bill this week to require all men and women from 18 to 26 to spend 2 years in the military or in civilian national service.

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