When female sailors challenged a federal statute that barred the Navy from assigning women to sea duty on its vessels, Judge John Sirica held that the statute violated “the equality principle embodied in the [F]ifth [A]mendment.” The Court did not, however, require the Navy immediately to assign women to sea duty.

As Judge Sirica concluded, “[T]here remain many unanswered questions about the effects of full sexual integration that may well convince military authorities that women members should be excluded from shipboard combat assignments . . . or for that matter, from all shipboard duties until such time as the vessels are properly equipped and crew members properly trained to accommodate their female counterparts.

Those are essentially military decisions . . . and the Court expresses no view whatever on what their outcome should be.” The Navy has long since assigned women to shipboard duty.

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