Military recruiters returning to holdout Law Schools
For Vermont Law School, the price of standing on principle was $500,000.
That's how much school officials estimate they lost in federal money every year for refusing to allow military recruiters on campus because of their opposition to the Pentagon's policy on gays in the uniformed services.
Now that it's being repealed, Vermont Law School and another independent law school -- the William Mitchell College of Law, in St. Paul, Minn. -- are gearing up to welcome back recruiters.
Come fall, uniformed representatives of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps are expected to return to the campuses.
If you have a chance, go and read the entire article. The background is of course a bit longer, and stems from the Solomon Amendment and the ensuing legal battle that culminated with Rumsfeld v. FAIR.
Facts of the Case:
The Solomon Amendment, 10 U.S.C. 983(b)(1), withholds some federal funding from colleges and universities that deny U.S. military recruiters the same access to students that other employers are given. The Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights challenged the law, arguing that it violated the schools' First Amendment rights to expressive association by requiring them to assist in military recruitment. The district court rejected the suit, but a Third Court of Appeals panel reversed. It held that, while the schools still had the right to forfeit funds so as to avoid unwanted endorsement of military policy under the amendment, forcing the schools to make such a decision was unconstitutional. Congress could not require them to forfeit a constitutional right in order to receive federal funds.
Does the Solomon Amendment, which witholds certain federal funds from colleges and universities that restrict the access of military recruiters to students, violate the First Amendment?
No. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, held that the Solomon Amendment regulated conduct, not speech, and was therefore constitutional. Including military recruiters in receptions and interviews does not necessarily indicate university endorsement of the recruiters, so requiring their inclusion does not constitute compelled speech in violation of the First Amendment. This would be true even if Congress had decided to make the requirement direct, rather than making it indirect as a condition for receiving federal funds. Roberts wrote, "Because the First Amendment would not prevent Congress from directly imposing the Solomon Amendment's access requirement, the statute does not place an unconstitutional condition on the receipt of federal funds."
I was particularly please with the result of that case, if only because the decision mirrored the Amicus Brief submitted by my Alma Mater, George Mason University School of Law:
The Court's decision closely follows the amicus brief filed by members of the George Mason law school community — the only members of the national community of law schools to brief the case in behalf of the armed services. Several dozen amicus briefs were filed on the losing side (including briefs in behalf of the professors at Yale University, Harvard University, Columbia University, New York University, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania), arguing that the Solomon Amendment's requirement of equal access for military recruiters was unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
Either way, I always thought excluding military recruiters was idiotic. Wouldn't we want JAGs from all walks of life? I would think diversification of attorneys would be a good thing. Glad that these last holdouts are giving up an idiotic battle.