Rostker v. Goldberg

453 U.S. 57, 101 S. Ct. 2646 (1981)



The different treatment of men and women naval officers reflects, not archaic and overbroad generalizations, but instead, the demonstrable fact that male and female line officers in the Navy are not similarly situated with respect to opportunities for professional service. In light of the combat restrictions, women do not have the same opportunities for promotion as men, and therefore, it is not unconstitutional for Congress to distinguish between them.


The Court held that Congress acted well within its constitutional authority when it authorized the registration of men, and not women, under the MSSA. Men and women, because of the combat restrictions on women, were not similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft. Congress's decision to authorize the registration of only men, therefore, did not violate the Due Process Clause and the gender classification was not invidious. The exemption of women from registration was not only sufficiently, but was also, closely related to Congress's purpose in authorizing registration.


Did the MSSA violate the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution in authorizing the President to require the registration for the draft of males and not females?




It was held that the exemption of women did not violate the equal protection clause under the Fifth Amendment, since (1) Congress did not act unthinkingly or reflexively and not for any considered reason and its decision was not the accidental byproduct of a traditional way of thinking about women and (2) women as a group, unlike men as a group, not being eligible for combat, the exemption of women was closely related to the congressional purpose in instituting registration which was to prepare for a draft of combat troops and, rather than being invidious, realistically reflected the fact that the sexes were not similarly situated.

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