• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court found that the male-only draft registration law was constitutional.

Although draft registration was discontinued after the Vietnam War, it was reinstated in 1980. With 150,000 women serving in the armed forces, Congress considered but rejected a proposal to require women as well as men to register. A district court found that the single-sex registration violated the requirement for equal protection in the due process clause in the Fifth Amendment. Bernard Rostker, director of the Selective Service System, appealed to the Supreme Court.ConscriptionDiscrimination, sex;Rostker v. Goldberg[Rostker v. Goldberg]Conscription

By a 6-3 vote, the Court upheld the law. Justice William H. Rehnquist,Rehnquist, William H.Rostker v. Goldberg[Rostker v. Goldberg] writing for the Court, argued that men and women were not “similarly situated” in regard to the draft, because Congress had decided that women as a group were not eligible for combat. He further wrote that the standard of heightened scrutiny was satisfied in the case because the policy of male-only registration was closely related to the important goal of developing a pool of potential combat troops. In dissent, Justice Thurgood MarshallMarshall, Thurgood;Rostker v. Goldberg[Rostker v. Goldberg] argued that the government should be required to show that registering women would substantially impede the goal of preparing for a draft of combat troops. All the justices appeared to assume that it was constitutional to restrict combat duty to men only.[case]Rostker v. Goldberg[Rostker v. Goldberg]

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