Sunday, November 27

Law schools vs. the U.S. military

In a few weeks the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that challenges the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment--a federal law that requires universities to give military recruiters the same access to their campus facilities as is enjoyed by corporate recruiters, or risk losing various federal funds. (Rumsfeld v. FAIR)

Thirty-one law schools formed an organization with the misleading but nicely-acronymed name of "Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights" (FAIR, see?) to challenge this law. According to the WaPo (Charles Lane, WaPo, May 3, 2005; Page A02), the law schools claim the law is "inconsistent with their constitutional right to free speech. They say they should be free to shun a policy they consider discriminatory."

This careful wording is just too cute. Of course, considering that the source is the WaPo it's an even bet that the phrases used by the Post's reporter aren't even close to the wording actually used either by the parties or by the court. But reporter Lane's use of the phrase "to shun a policy" for breaking federal law is truly Orwellian.

Virtually every story on this case has described it as a "free speech issue"--which of course is how the law school group is arguing it. But a closer look shows that the case has about as much to do with free speech as flag burning or nude dancing. To characterize it as a free-speech issue is as nutty as opposing Iraqi elections on the ground that elections would deny *Saddam* free speech.

The Post reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals granted FAIR an injunction against enforcement of the Solomon Amendment, saying it "requires law schools to express a message that is incompatible with their educational objectives, and no compelling governmental interest has been shown to deny this freedom."

[This last phrase--the reporter's, not the court's--suggests the Post is simply throwing in hot-button phrases regardless of whether they apply to this case: Denying any freedom rallies most Americans, but exactly what is "this freedom" that the government is supposedly seeking to deny?

The Post claims the real motive for the law-schools' filing this suit is their objection to the policy (forced on the military by Democrat Bill Clinton) of "don't ask, don't tell" regarding homosexuals in the military. For those unaware, Clinton ordered the military to accept homosexuals join as long as their orientation was not "obvious."

This supposed explanation for the law-schools' true motive is a nice cover story, and probably generates support among gay advocates. But let's be honest here: The hostility of most academics to all things military--which prompted the Solomon amendment in the first place--far pre-dates Clinton's don't-ask/don't-tell policy. The law-schools may claim they're doing this to make a stand for gay rights but the truth is that they've been anti-military for decades.

This is actually just one more skirmish in the endless battle between people who believe that America--far from being a champion of freedom and democracy the world over--is actually the *cause* of most of the world's problems and wars. It can't come as a surprise that those who believe the American military is bad want to avoid giving military recruiters equal access to their students.


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