Profs join anti-military recruiting group

The University Law School might put up signs condemning the Solomon Amendment.

by Cati Vanden Breul

University Law School faculty members passed a resolution Tuesday that could make it harder for the military to recruit on the school’s campus.

The resolution states the faculty’s disapproval of the Solomon Amendment, which allows the government to withhold funds from colleges that do not grant access to military recruiters.

Faculty members overwhelmingly voted to join the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, a group of 26 law schools and faculties that sued the Department of Defense in 2003, arguing the amendment was unconstitutional.

“But we are not a plaintiff in the lawsuit,” said Dale Carpenter, a University Law School professor.

Carpenter said the parties in the lawsuit are already set, and the University’s Law School will not join at this point.

“But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t do it in the future,” he said. “For now, we joined to show our support for the overall goals of the group.”

Law schools nationwide have taken action against the amendment because the military’s refusal to hire openly gay people contradicts the schools’ nondiscrimination policies.

A federal appeals court ruled in November that the amendment was unconstitutional, but it is delaying enforcement of the ruling until the Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case.

The University’s Law School will continue to allow military recruiters on campus, said Carol Chomsky, a professor in the school. But faculty members wanted to publicly state they do not condone the discriminatory policies of the military, she said.

“We wanted to go on record with our concern and make sure that we were public with our response and did not remain silent,” Chomsky said.

She said the school will form a committee of students, faculty members and career services representatives to make its nondiscrimination policies clear and visible to the public and military recruiters.

Although the committee will decide exactly what action to take, Chomsky said, this could include putting signs up during recruitment visits stating the school’s disapproval of the military’s policies.

Chomsky said faculty members never specifically discussed joining the lawsuit against the Department of Defense.

“It’s a difficult and risky step to take,” Chomsky said.

Although the issue is about nondiscrimination, she said, some view law schools’ condemnation of the Solomon Amendment as anti-military.

“Therefore, (taking legal action) subjects a school to possible retaliation, because it’s portrayed as something it’s not,” Chomsky said.

The resolution is a big step in ending the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, said James Fleming, a third-year University law student.

“It’s one step closer to making clear that it’s a bad policy,” he said.

“It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when.’ “

If the Supreme Court decides not to hear the case, or if it upholds the ruling that the amendment is unconstitutional, colleges around the country will be able to ban military recruiters without losing funding, Fleming said.