Female Soldiers Sue U.S. Challenging Restrictions on Combat
Two female soldiers asked a federal judge to throw out the U.S. military’s restrictions on women in combat, claiming the policy violates their constitutional rights.
U.S. Army reservists Jane Baldwin and Ellen Haring, in a lawsuit filed today in Washington, said policies excluding them from assignments “solely because they are women” violate their right to equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution’s 5th Amendment. The complaint names Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army Secretary John McHugh as defendants.
“This limitation on plaintiffs’ careers restricts their current and future earnings, their potential for promotion and advancement, and their future retirement benefits,” the women said in the complaint filed by Christopher Sipes of Covington & Burling LLP in Washington.
The Pentagon in February announced a change in policy that opened more than 14,000 additional positions to women across the armed services, most of them in the Army. Still, it stopped short of allowing women to serve in so-called ground combat assignments, including special forces and long range reconnaissance operations.
George Little, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment on the lawsuit. He said in an e-mail that Panetta “is strongly committed to examining the expansion of roles for women in the U.S. military, as evidenced by the recent step of opening up thousands of more assignments to women.”