Sunday, January 18, 2009

Parade survey on campus ROTC and DADT


Following on to the story about Obama and lifting “don’t ask don’t tell” is a Parade survey today, Jan. 18, on p. 8, “Should ROTC Be in All Colleges?”

15% said no. 85% said yes, and pointed out that if the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy were ended immediately, “elite” colleges would find other reasons to express animosity toward the military. However, among those who say no, the DADT policy is a major reason, saying that it corrupts the non-discrimination at colleges. The Parade link is here.

Of great controversy associated with the ban is the Solomon Amendment, a 1996 law that allows the Secretary of Defense to withhold Pentagon funds from colleges which ban military recruiters on campus. The official regulations, promulgated in 1998, are here. The Findlaw text for the US Code (983) is here.

The Supreme Court upheld the Solomon law in 2006 in a case called Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR), analysis here. Justice Roberts wrote “The Solomon Amendment also does not violate the law schools’ freedom of expressive association. Unlike Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U. S. 640, where the Boy Scouts’ freedom of expressive association was violated when a state law required the organization to accept a homosexual scoutmaster, the statute here does not force a law school “ ‘to accept members it does not desire,’ ” id., at 648. Law schools “associate” with military recruiters in the sense that they interact with them, but recruiters are not part of the school. They are outsiders who come onto campus for the limited purpose of trying to hire students—not to become members of the school’s expressive association. The freedom of expressive association protects more than a group’s membership decisions, reaching activities that affect a group’s ability to express its message by making group membership less attractive. But the Solomon Amendment has no similar effect on a law school’s associational rights. Students and faculty are free to associate to voice their disapproval of the military’s message; nothing about the statute affects the composition of the group by making membership less desirable. Pp. 18–20.”

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