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The Supreme Court's Decision on the Solomon Amendment: What's Next?

This past Monday, March 6, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in FAIR v. Rumsfeld, the litigation initiated by a coalition of law schools opposed to the federal legislation commonly known as the Solomon Amendment. For those of you unfamiliar with the statute, the Solomon Amendment requires universities receiving a host of federal funds to provide equal access to military recruiters in their facilities or otherwise face financial penalties. In its decision in FAIR, the Court rejected the law schools' claims that the Solomon Amendment unconsitutionally infringed on the law schools' First Amendment rights, since most schools are forced by the statue to provide access in violation of their own policies forbidding the use of their facilities to engage in discriminatory hiring (in this case, discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students interested in working for the military.)

While I leave it to members of the law faculty here and elsewhere to parse the language of Chief Justice Roberts' opinion, I would like to re-emphasize what has not changed as a result of the Court's decision. Without question, the military's hiring policies violate the Law School's stated policy against discrimination in hiring. Any other employer who would engage in such practices against any of our students would not be permitted to use the services of the CPDC. Nevertheless, as in the past, we are compelled by the federal legislation to provide equal access to recruiters from the military branches for the purposes of recruiting law students. That said, the Chief Justice's opinion clearly allows members of the Law School community, including the administration, to demonstrate their opposition to these hiring practices. We will continue to post disclaimer language on our announcements concerning military recruitment on campus and will be working with the Law School's Solomon Amendment Amelioration Committee to determine if there is a need to strengthen the language used. In addition, we will be working with the Committee to provide other amelioration steps in opposition to the coerced use of our facilities for the purposes of hiring in violation of the Law School's own policies.

We welcome your responses and thoughts. Please contact either Susan Gainen or me directly. In addition, we encourage you to contact Professor Beverly Balos, chair of the Solomon Amendment Amelioration Committee, with your suggestions regarding amelioration activities here on campus. For more information, please check the SolomonResponse.org website.