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Supreme Court Accepts Stand of Orthodox Groups in Ruling Barring Drafting of Women

June 26, 1981
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A decision by the Supreme Court today upholding the constitutionality of a male only registration and draft was hailed by member agencies of the Orthodox Jewish Coalition on the Draft.

The high court’s six to three decision overturned a lower court ruling that former President Carter’s registration of men only was unconstitutional. The Supreme court had stayed the lower court decision permitting registration to continue prior to its ruling today.

The brief to the Supreme Court, written on behalf of the Orthodox coalition, was prepared by Dennis Rapps, executive director of the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs (COLPA) with the assistance of A. David Stern, a COLPA attorney.

The organizations making up the coalition were Agudath Israel of America; the Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States and Canada; Mosdos Bobov; the National Council of Young Israel; Torah Umesorah, the National Society for Hebrew Day Schools; the Rabbinical Council of America;

the Poalei Agudath; the Religious Zionists of America; the United Lubavitcher Organization; the United Satmar Community; the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America; the Rabbinical Alliance of America; and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada.

A spokesman for the Union of Orthodox Rabbis told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Union had sent members and letters to the Justice Department on the case, in the name of the organization’s president, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.


The Agudath Israel said in a statement that the ruling was a “major victory for the American family and for the rights of the Orthodox Jew in particular.” The statement said that Orthodox Jews had greeted the Supreme Court ruling with a “sign of relief” because it meant Jewish women “will not be faced with the irreconcilable and unprecedented conflict between the requirements of their faith and the law of the land.”

The statement added that “the highest rabbinic authorities of Orthodox Judaism have ruled that Jewish Law prohibits Jewish women from responding to any form of conscription.”

The Orthodox agency reported it had conducted talks for more than a year with Selective Service System officials in the event women would have been required to register. The agency said the draft officials agreed that Orthodox women could not submit to military discipline and “had even gone to the extent of assuring the Orthodox community that Orthodox Jewish women would have been able to perform alternative service which would ‘meet your standards of family or religious supervision, as well as our standards of public service’.”

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