When Ford ended draft registration, Goldberg's case languished. Carter's decision to revive the process gave it new life. A district court ruled in favor of Goldberg, finding that the Selective Service Act unconstitutionally discriminated between men and women.
The federal government appealed and the Supreme Court reversed the lower court. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice William Rehnquist said that Congress "acted well within its constitutional authority to raise and regulate armies and navies when it authorized the registration of men and not women."
Goldberg is now 59 and a doctor living and practicing near San Francisco. He said there is a "delicious irony" in the Pentagon's decision to end the ban on women in combat nearly 40 years after he challenged the idea that women couldn't cope with the rigors of military service.
"As a 20-year-old, I wasn't trying to make history," Goldberg said. "All I was trying to do was to see that the Selective Service System be declared unconstitutional by one means or another. It seemed patently obvious to me that a woman could do a job as well as I could."