The Supreme Court yesterday unanimously upheld a federal law that forces colleges and universities to permit military recruiting on campus, despite the schools’ objections to the Pentagon ban on openly gay people serving in the armed forces.
By a vote of 8 to 0, the court upheld the Solomon Amendment, which permits the denial of federal funding to schools that do not allow military recruiters the same access given to all other job recruiters. But in ruling that schools must provide the military the same access to students as they would for any other recruiters, the justices noted that schools are still free to protest their presence on campus…
I happened to read this in today’s Washington Post and wanted to post it here. This case always seemed like a no-brainer to me. Despite attempts by antiwar activists to portray it as a case of free speech, linking this with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was a huge mistake. In my view SCOTUS was spot on in its decision written by new Chief Justice John Roberts:
Law schools remain free under the statute to express whatever views they may have on the military’s congressionally mandated employment policy. . . . Nothing about recruiting suggests that law schools agree with any speech by recruiters and nothing in the Solomon Amendment restricts what the law schools may say about the military’s policies…In this case, FAIR has attempted to stretch a number of First Amendment doctrines well beyond the sort of activities these doctrines protect.
It’s very simple: if you take the King’s shilling be prepared to do his bidding. No one has forced these schools to accept Federal funding and they may forgo it for any reason and at any time. What they may not do is unfairly limit access to military recruiters while keeping their chubby paws out for the next taxpayer dollar. Whether they accept Federal dollars or not, those opposed to the ban on known homosexuals serving in the military are free to protest and make their views heard. Such is their right and if the Solomon Amendment had sought to limit that I would have supported it being struck down. Yet it was never an issue.
What is surprising to me is the fact that SCOTUS ruled unanimously on this issue, including a suggestion of Congress’ power that I find chilling and unconstitutional:
So thorough was the court’s rejection of FAIR’s arguments that it ruled Congress could have achieved equal access not only indirectly, by threatening a funding cutoff, but also directly, through legislation based on its constitutional power to raise military forces. In fact, the court suggested in passing, even colleges and universities that do not receive any federal funding could be compelled by Congress to allow military recruiters.
“Congress’s power in this area is broad and sweeping,” Roberts wrote, “and there is no dispute in this cases that it includes the authority to require campus access to military recruiters.”
So far, however, the government has chosen the more indirect approach of the Solomon Amendment.
Such a move by Congress I would oppose most vigorously because this is an unacceptable abridgement of rights. People and institutions objecting to the military have a right to disassociate themselves from it, even if I find such a view repugnant. The only time I could see allowing such would be in a state of war with the use of the draft. At all other times, not at all.
Although I strongly disagree with the WaPo editors on the necessity of the Solomon Amendment, I must endorse their call to Now Repeal the Ban.