In 1975, after the war in Vietnam, the U. S. government discontinued draft registration for men in this country. In 1980, after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter asked Congress for funds to reactivate draft registration. President Carter suggested that both males and females be required to register. Congress allocated funds only for the registration of males. Several men who were subject to draft registration brought a lawsuit that challenged the law as being unconstitutional, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U. S. Constitution. The U. S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the draft registration law, reasoning as follows:
The question of registering women for the draft not only received considerable national attention and was the subject of wide ranging public debate, but also was extensively considered by Congress in hearings, floor debate, and in committee. The foregoing clearly establishes that the decision to exempt women from registration was not the “accidental by product of a traditional way of thinking about women.”
This is not a case of Congress arbitrarily choosing to burden one of two similarly situated groups, such as would be the case with an all black or all white, or an all Catholic or all Lutheran, or an all Republican or all Democratic registration. Men and women are simply not similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft.
Justice Marshall dissented, stating
The Court today places its imprimatur on one of the most potent remaining public expressions of “ancient canards about the proper role of women.” It upholds a statute that requires males but not females to register for the draft, and which thereby categorically excludes women from a fundamental civil obligation. I dissent.
What arguments did the U. S. Supreme Court assert to justify requiring males but not females to register for the draft? Is the law, as determined by the U. S. Supreme Court, fair? Do you agree with the dissent? Rostker, Director of Selective Service v. Goldberg, 453 U. S. 57, 101 S. Ct. 2646, 1981 U. S. Lexis 126 (Supreme Court of the United States)