Thursday, November 14, 2013

Rostker v. Goldberg case brief

Rostker v. Goldberg case brief summary
453 U.S. 57 (1981)

Plaintiff men filed suit against defendant selective service director, challenging the Military Selective Service Act (MSSA), 50 U.S.C.S. app. § 451 et seq. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued an opinion finding that the MSSA violated the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and permanently enjoined the government from requiring registration under the Act. Certiorari was granted.


  • The question presented to the Court was whether the MSSA violated the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution in authorizing the President to require the registration for the draft of males and not females.
  • The Court held that Congress acted well within its constitutional authority when it authorized the registration of men, and not women, under the MSSA. 
  • Congress specifically recognized and endorsed the exclusion of women from combat in exempting women from registration. 
  • The existence of the combat restrictions clearly indicated the basis for Congress's decision to exempt women from registration because the purpose of registration was to prepare for a draft of combat troops. 
  • 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.

The Court reversed the district court's judgment that found that the MSSA was unconstitutional.

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