The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made an impressive decision in ruling the Solomon Amendment-a law that requires all universities receiving federal funding to allow military recruiters on their campuses-unconstitutional, this past fall.
The coalition of 25 law schools involved in the lawsuit argued that the First Amendment rights of their students were being infringed upon by being subjected to the military’s discriminatory rhetoric concerning their ban on openly homosexual individuals.
While the ruling only held to law schools, thus concerning only the legal facet of the military, it set a strong precedent that would be hard to ignore in the face of similar challenges from other institutions of higher learning, possibly effecting the enlistment of ground forces. Needless to say, the government is none too pleased with this turn of events.
This decision comes at a sensitive time, when enlistment projections are falling short, coupled with a steady stream of reserves and National Guardsmen being called to active duty.
Despite these shortcomings, President Bush would never risk political suicide by instituting a draft. Thus, campus recruitment is a bread-and-butter area for the military and their potential loss in guaranteed and unfettered access to hundreds of college campuses is a tough pill to swallow. Predictably, the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced they are going to request that the Supreme Court overturn the ruling.
In regards to the ruling itself, it was an exercise in creativity and an unlikely victory for homosexuals in the battle for national recognition as actual people.
How long do you think any institution would put up with imposed policy speeches from an organization banning minority workers?
For whatever awful reasons people might have, there is a continued acceptance of gay bigotry so it is refreshing to witness those entrusted with the upkeep of our laws fighting for acceptance and battling prejudice.
That aspect of the case is but a drop into the ocean. The real significance lies in the opportunity to alter the landscapes of universities across the nation. Personally, I take no issue with the presence of military recruiters on campus.
As disgusted as I am toward those who so callously abuse our brave soldiers, I agree with many that our military is very important.
I do not agree with every method used by these recruiters, such as dangling money in front of those with extensive student debts, but there is no fault in wishing to strengthen a unit dedicated in theory to protecting us.
Indeed, even a counselor for one of the law schools involved in the suit, E. Joshua Rosenkranz, stated that most of those schools would continue to allow the recruiters.
The problem itself lay not in the presence of the recruiters, but in the manner of their presence.
It was merely their universal privileges without regard for the opinion of the school boards that was at question. No head of a business enjoys having his power infringed upon.
Similarly, no student enjoys exposure to an organization in which he or she has no interest or one that spouts views they strongly disagree with.
The military should be allowed to recruit, but not if school administrators find that it comes in conflict with the institution’s integrity. And if the institution decides that its integrity is being compromised, federal funding should certainly not be withheld.
What is the government attempting to tell us-that engaging young men and women in death struggles is more important than helping to improve the quality of their education?
Let us hope that the Supreme Court, if they decide to review the case, will uphold the ruling. If there is anything that we should have learned in the past couple of years, it is that enforcing beliefs upon people who do not agree with them does little good for either party involved.
Noah Potvin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.