While the article isn’t about military justice, many of our readers will be interested in the following:  Maia Goodell, Physical-Strength Rationales for De Jure Exclusion of Women from Military Combat Positions, 34 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 17 (2010).  It can be downloaded from this page.  [Note:  I haven’t read the article yet.]

7 Responses to “Article questioning combat exclusion”

  1. Anon says:

    This article does not discuss the issue of unit cohesion and how it differs b/w coed and same sex units. It would be interesting to see some studies on that issue.

  2. Bill C says:

    Many years ago there was a great SNL skit with Bill Murray doing the news in which he advocated an all female combat force. This way, if we ever lost a war, we could say “So what, you beat a bunch of girls!” Hysterical.

  3. 2d Generation USMC says:

    Very interesting article. Thank for sharing this. I found pages 36-37 the most insightful – interesting concept that women “discrimination is built into our bodies.” I agree with Anon, the unit cohesion aspect is important to this analysis, especially when studies show that positive unit cohesion largely reduces the likelihood that one will have PTSD. There is a rumor (I haven’t read anything yet) that PTSD among women vets is on the rise. Although this study focused more on the physical/psych aspects of whether or not women should be allowed, before the DoD gets serious about considering this, I hope they look at all the “branches and sequels.”

  4. mikeyes says:

    Asking as an obvious non-lawyer:

    Is the exclusion of women from combat a political question based on Article One, Section 8 “Rules of Government” clause and therfore the courts have no say in the matter? If not, why not and if so, is the article moot? (I suspect I can ask the same question of DADT.)

  5. publius says:

    This is 21st century America. The courts have a say in every matter. Occassionally, for political reasons, they pretend they don’t. But when the courts want to weigh in on any issue, they do. Usually, the “commerce clause” is their way in. Here, it’d probably be “equal protection”.

  6. John O'Connor says:


    I generally share Publius’s cynicism, but I should add that the courts are generally very deferential to policy decisions made by Congress and the President concerning the needs of the armed forces. Basically, if the legal issue invovles some assessment of the needs of the military in performing its defense mission, the courts are loath to second-guess the decisions made by the policital branches of government (i.e., Congress and the Executive).

  7. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if the issue is as much the fact that America would not tolerate significant female casualties for very long as it is the concern for unit cohesion.

    I think, as with DADT, folks would execute the mission and deal with it, like we’ve always done as the force has changed with gender and racial integration.

    But, I don’t think we’d have spent as long in Iraq or Afghanistan if we had images of combat injuries to women, coming home in significant numbers missing limbs or eyes.

    Whether that is a good or bad thing I leave to the group.