They are doing so on naïve assumptions. The first is that physical standards will not change, and only those few women who meet ones developed for men will be placed on the front lines. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, has already breached that defense: “If we do decide that a particular standard is so high that a woman couldn’t make it, the burden is now on the service to come back and explain to the secretary, why is it that high? Does it really have to be that high?” Thus were the Armed Forces welcomed to the world of disparate impact that corporate attorneys have already come to know so well.
The second mistaken assumption is that only women who volunteer for combat will ever have to engage in it. It has been reasonably well understood until now that any man who joins the military, whatever his reasons for doing it, becomes the military’s to use as it sees fit. There is no reason to think women will be treated any differently by a military that officially denies that average differences between the sexes should have any impact on its treatment of individuals. (Nor will there be any reason to restrict draft registration to men — as we trust the courts will find in short order once this policy takes effect.)