Law schools aim to overturn Solomon Amendment

Daily Sundial

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Several law schools are arguing that the Solomon Amendment, which gives the Department of Defense the right to withdraw funds from public universities for not permitting military recruiters on their campuses, violates the non-discriminatory policies of universities.

Congress passed the Solomon Amendment 10 years ago. Although the amendment is still in effect, many law schools have argued that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy the military adheres to goes against the non-discrimination policies of the schools.

The policy maintains that the military will not ask someone whether he or she is homosexual, but will not enlist an individual who openly claims homosexuality.

These schools said they should not be forced to allow military recruiters on their campuses in response to the fear that funds would be taken away.

James Lafferty, director of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles, said there have been continuous efforts in past years to change the Solomon Amendment, but those efforts have been unsuccessful. Due to these unsuccessful efforts, many schools have resorted to filing lawsuits to bring the Solomon Amendment down, but even then, few schools have been successful, he said.

In the cases where law schools have won, it was proven that being forced to allow military recruiting is intrusive to the First Amendment rights of free speech, Lafferty said.

“It’s an intrusion to colleges to impose on their beliefs,” Lafferty said. “These law schools took the initiative.”

Institutions should have the right to maintain their own belief systems and still be entitled to the funds that other institutions receive, Lafferty said.

“It’s the notion of forcing the school that becomes a problem,” Lafferty said.

The recruiting issue, as well as the Solomon Amendment, have become bigger controversies since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, because the military is finding it more difficult to fill its ranks, Lafferty said. The number of people wanting to join the military is diminishing, he said.

Mauricio Santos, a 22-year-old former marine who was stationed in Kuwait in Operation Iraqi Freedom, said having military recruiters on campuses should not be negatively perceived, because students are not forced to talk to them. It is a simple request on the part of the Department of Defense in return for money that is helpful to the school, Santos said.

“When it comes to the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, it shouldn’t even be an issue,” Santos said. “When you join the military, they don’t ask you to state whether you are homosexual or not, and they won’t ask you while they’re recruiting either.”

The Solomon Amendment provides the military an opportunity to inform students about their options, Santos said.

Mathew McTighe, public policy advocate for the Human Rights Campaign, said the Solomon Amendment does not stand a chance of being overturned by Congress, but what is likely to happen is that homosexuals would be allowed to join the military, which would get rid of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Currently, there are two legal cases trying to get rid of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” McTighe said.

If the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is changed, McTighe said he thinks colleges would no longer have a problem with the Solomon Amendment.