Selective Service law as it’s written now refers specifically to “male persons” in stating who must register and who would be drafted. For women to be required to register with Selective Service, Congress would have to amend the law.
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.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on December 3, 2015, the Department of Defense will lift all gender-based restrictions on military service starting January. In response, Armed Services Committee Chairmen, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), issued a joint statement on December 3, 2015, saying, “Congress has a 30-day period to review the implications of today’s decision. … and receiving the Department’s views on any changes to the Selective Service Act that may be required as a result of this decision.”
As of January 2016, there has been no decision to require females to register with Selective Service, or be subject to a future military draft. Selective Service continues to register only men, ages 18 through 25.
Following a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced, on January 24, 2013, the end of the direct ground combat exclusion rule for female service members. The service branches continue to move forward with a plan to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service. Ongoing project is still underway.
The Selective Service System, if given the mission and modest additional resources, is capable of registering and drafting women with its existing infrastructure.