Rostker v. Goldberg 453 U.S. 57 (1981)

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ROSTKER v. GOLDBERG 453 U.S. 57 (1981)

Men subject to registration for possible military conscription challenged the exclusion of women from the registration requirement as a denial of equal protection. The Supreme Court, 6–3, rejected this claim. Justice william h. rehnquist, for the majority, paid great deference to Congress's authority over military affairs; with the most minimal judicial second-guessing of the congressional judgment, he concluded that men and women were "not similarly situated," because any draft would be designed to produce combat troops, and women were ineligible for combat. sex discrimination, in other words, was its own justification.

As the dissenters demonstrated, the exclusion of women from draft registration had resulted from no military judgment at all; the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff had urged that women be registered. Rather, Congress had heard the voice of public opinion. It is not impossible that the Court itself heard that voice. Thus do sex-role stereotypes perpetuate themselves.

Kenneth L. Karst
(1986)