Military Establishes Beach Head at Law Schools

The Supreme Court says that law schools have to accept military recruiters on campus if they are going to accept federal funding.

What does it take to get into Harvard University?

Apparently, $300 million or so is enough. (See Going for the Gold)

That, at least, is one possible conclusion from a decision of the US Supreme Court. (Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, et. al. vs. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, Inc. et. al., No. 04–1152, March 6, 2006)

Law schools banding together under the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, Inc. (FAIR) don’t want to allow military recruiters on campus. But, since the federal government sends millions of dollars to some of the schools, the Federal Government insists that they allow military recruiters on campus to seek out new members of the military–including an occasional recruit from among the nation’s academic elite.

The stated reason for not allowing the military recruiters is the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy regarding homosexuals serving in the armed forces of our country. Before the Supreme Court, FAIR argued that the law requiring them to accept military recruiters violated their right of free speech and association.

In short, the court concluded that in order for a law school and its university to receive federal funding, the law school must offer military recruiters the same access to its campus and students that it provides to the nonmilitary recruiter receiving the most favorable access.

The basis for the decision is that the law giving military recruiters access regulates conduct and not speech. According to the Court, the recruiting process does not suggest that law schools agree with any speech by recruiters, and nothing in the Solomon Amendment restricts what they may say about the military’s policies.

But, while the universities are forced to accept an occasional military recruiter on the campus in exchange for the $35 billion or so given out by the feds each year to higher education, they don’t have to like it.

The schools are apparently free to pursue their philosophical and ideological objections to allowing an occasional recruiter by now accepting the federal money. As noted in the Wall Street Journal’s online editorial, the schools are free to show their contempt for America in other ways, such as admitting the deputy foreign secretary of the Taliban to be a student at Yale University.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47