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Rostker v. Goldberg

Significance

The Court's decision reinforced Congress' broad powers to pass laws with respect to raising and maintaining the armed forces of the United States, and validated the male-only draft. The decision has had only limited impact, however, on the Court's resolution of gender discrimination issues outside the military context.

During the height of the Vietnam War, one of the most divisive issues was the drafting of males to serve as soldiers in the nation's armed forces under the Military Selective Service Act, originally enacted in 1948. Since the passage of the act, only males were subject to the draft, although there were a number of proposals in the late 1960s to include women. A number of influential people thought that the draft should include women, including the feminist Margaret Meade and numerous government officials. In 1971, Robert L. Goldberg and several other men brought a suit in the U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania challenging the constitutionality of the male only draft. The suit, which was brought on behalf of all men required to register under the Selective Service Act, argued that the Selective Service Act violated the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution by denying men the equal protection of the laws by treating them differently from women solely on the basis of their gender. However, because the registration requirements were discontinued by President Gerald Ford in 1975, the case remained inactive.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Rostker v. Goldberg - Significance, President Carter Reactivates The Selective Service System, Validity Of Rostker Questioned, Women And The Selective Service Exemption