Published: 10-10-2011, 15:17

Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR) - American Education

A U.S. Defense Department lawsuit challenging the right of 38 law schools to bar military recruiters from their campuses. Since 1991, the American Association of Law Schools, which includes 166 of the 188 accredited law schools in the United States, has insisted that prospective employers recruiting graduating seniors on their campuses agree to a policy of nondiscrimination on all bases, including sexual orientation. These schools barred military recruiters because of the military’s policies that reject admitted homosexuals from the American armed services. Most American undergraduate and graduate schools followed suit, and Congress responded with a law known as the Solomon Amendment, which withholds federal grants from colleges and universities that do not permit military recruiters on campus “in a manner at least equal in quality and scope” to civilian recruiters. Although nearly $20 billion in federal grants, or more than 10% of the annual revenues of American colleges and universities, were at stake, most colleges and universities continued to bar military recruiters from American campuses, and the Defense Department filed suit and won a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in March 2006, forcing compliance with the Solomon Amendment. “The case treats law students as though they can’t think for themselves,” argued an attorney for law students at three law schools, who filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the government. “They are smart enough to understand that law schools do not endorse every employer’s business practices,” their attorney concluded. On March 6, 2006, the Supreme Court agreed unanimously with the government position, saying that the Solomon Amendment does not violate rights to free speech by universities and that it affects only “what law schools must do . . . not what they may or may not say.” Solomon requires law schools to “afford equal access to military recruiters,” but it “neither limits what law schools may say nor requires them to say anything.” They remain free to disavow the military, to denounce it or even to help students organize protests.