Archive for Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Supreme Court upholds campus military recruitment

March 7, 2006


— The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that the government can force colleges to open their campuses to military recruiters despite university objections to the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays.

Justices rejected a free-speech challenge from law schools and professors who claimed they should not have to associate with military recruiters or promote their campus appearances.

The decision was a setback for universities that had become the latest battleground over the military policy allowing gay men and women to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation to themselves.

The ruling does not, however, answer broader questions about the policy itself. Challenges are pending in courts in Boston and Los Angeles that could eventually reach the high court.

Justices seemed swayed by the Bush administration's arguments that after the terrorist attacks, and during the war in Iraq, the government had a responsibility to bolster its recruitment.

Chief Justice John Roberts said that campus visits are an effective recruiting tool. And, he said, "a military recruiter's mere presence on campus does not violate a law school's right to associate, regardless of how repugnant the law school considers the recruiter's message."

The 8-0 decision upheld a federal law that says universities must give the military the same access as other recruiters or forfeit federal money.

Justices ruled even more broadly, saying that Congress could directly demand military access on campus without linking the requirement to federal money.

"When you're in the middle of war, even if it's not a terribly popular one, courts are hesitant to tie the hands of the military," said Jon Davidson, legal director of gay rights group Lambda Legal.

Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, called the decision "an important victory for the military and ultimately for our national security."

The military's policy had put college leaders in a thorny situation because of campus rules that forbid participation of recruiters representing agencies or private companies that have discriminatory policies.

Most college leaders have said they could not afford to lose federal help, some $35 billion a year.

Roberts, writing his third decision since joining the court last fall, said there are other less drastic options for protesting the policy. "Students and faculty are free to associate to voice their disapproval of the military's message," he wrote.

The court roundly rejected arguments that the policy raised important First Amendment free-speech issues for school leaders.

"Compelling a law school that sends scheduling e-mails for other recruiters to send one for a military recruiter is simply not the same as forcing a student to pledge allegiance, or forcing a Jehovah's Witness to display the motto 'Live Free or Die,"' Roberts wrote.

Roberts filed the only opinion, which was joined by every justice but Samuel Alito. Alito did not participate because he was not on the bench when the case was argued three months ago.


Chris Tackett 12 years, 2 months ago

i'm so glad lunacydetector can predict the future!

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

Food for thought: the Chinese military is 2.5 million strong.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

To an extent, I agree, Fatty. If doing that many pushups has a bearing on the ability to do the job, then the standard should be the same. But if it's just an arbitrary standard in terms of actally performing the job, then make the standards match the real job requirements.

wonderhorse 12 years, 2 months ago


"If doing that many pushups has a bearing on the ability to do the job, then the standard should be the same." Surprisingly, it does. Trying to push one's self up off of the ground with a full pack on the back (as in a firefight) is a very trying, and tiring, exercise. The other exercises in the physical fitness test (running and sit-ups) are also scaled down for women.

meggers 12 years, 2 months ago


I was referring to the controversy when the Clinton administration lifted some of the restrictions regarding jobs available to women in the military. I realize that there continue to be restrictions with regard to combat positions. Sorry for not making myself clear.

In any case, I agree that women should meet the same physical requirements, if those requirements are essential to performing in a specific military capacity. If the requirements are more arbritrary and not necessarily relevant to the job, then I think the requirements could be modified.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

A draft would result in an unprofessional, uncommitted military. We don't need that.

lunacydetector 12 years, 2 months ago

if we ever have a draft again, a democrat will be in office.

just look at history.

Fatty_McButterpants 12 years, 2 months ago

meggers: women are still not allowed into positions that are strictly "combat" specialities. For example, the Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy SEALS, etc. As I recall, the "hubbaloo", as you put it, was about women serving in combat because women were already serving in support capacities.

Do I think that women should be allowed in combat positions such as the ones mentioned above? If they can pass the same physical standards that men have to without altering the requirements (ex: Push-ups: Men have to do 40 in a minute and women have to do 30 "knee push-ups") then I have no problem with it. I don't think that the requirements should be altered just for equality's sake.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

By the way, I believe that "don't ask don't tell" is policy, not law. It doesn't have to be repealed. It only needs to be changed.

The question is, to what?

meggers 12 years, 2 months ago

Sorry, Godot- I forgot to respond to the question you posed. I don't believe there should be any policy restricting gays from openly serving in the military.

I remember the hubbaloo about women serving. That eventually fizzled out, as folks realized that the integrity and strength of our military wasn't compromised by allowing that to happen. The same goes for gays- it's really a non-issue.

meggers 12 years, 2 months ago

It's a law that was passed to change the military's policy. Since it was passed through the legislative process, I believe another law needs to be passed in order to amend it.'t_ask,_don't_tell

Perhaps a draft would inspire lawmakers to end DADT, especially if we were to see a dramatic increase in the number of homosexual citizens who happen to be of draft age.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

Good point, Meggers. Ending "don't ask don't tell" would be the easier solution.

Jamesaust 12 years, 2 months ago

He who pays the piper, calls the tune.

Reminds me of the effort a decade or so ago to force states to increase their drinking age minimum to 21 years by holding back highway monies if they didn't. Last holdout? Hawaii, which has almost no highways needing federal assistance but made a lot of money on 18, 19, and 20 year olds drinking on vacation. In the end, even Hawaii discovered that their constitutional sovereignty didn't trump the all-powerful dollar.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

I would think those of you who oppose military service would encourage those who are interested in serving to do so. The more difficult you make it for the military to enlist volunteers, the closer you move us toward the draft, and the possibility that you will have to either serve, or take some drastic action to avoid serviing.

Chris Tackett 12 years, 2 months ago

what school are you talking about? 'cause i think this case is regarding all colleges that receive federal money. I see nothing wrong with recruiters on campus, but i just hope people are allowed to be informed enough to make decisions on whether it's a right for them.

I wouldn't count on a draft. It's political suicide for the Repubs. The only way there'd be a draft is if we're attacked again, and if that happens we're going to have a lot more to worry about than just a draft.

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

The government's responsibility to bolster recruitment, huh?

What makes them think that a school that resisted them so vehemently is going to provide any sort of reasonable recruitment opportunity? I think it's more likely to provide them a public relations issue, and protests.

I think that if we're still in Iraq next Christmas, the government's responsibility to bolster recruitment will arrange itself into a draft.

And then the real fun starts.

meggers 12 years, 2 months ago

Good points, Godot, but I do think this case has been largely misconstrued by both the media and those working on behalf of a favorable ruling for the military.

The opposition was not against military recruitment per se, but against the military's discriminatory practices with regard to homosexuals. The law schools who opposed military recruiters on their campuses have non-discrimination policies in place that include all job recruiters, not just the military.

I'm disappointed, but not necessarily surprised by the ruling. Hopefully, Don't Ask Don't Tell will be repealed one day, so schools will no longer be forced to choose between receiving much-needed federal dollars, or allowing open discrimination on their campuses.

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

The draft, in and of itself, is not a bad thing.

It's simply an organized system of mobilizing those available for service. The problem comes in when the majority of those who are being mobilized object to the purpose of the mobilization. The draft was used before Viet Nam and Korea to great effect because the public wanted to support the wars for which it was being drafted. With Korea and Viet Nam, the problem arose of forcing people to fight a war they saw no purpose to. If we have a draft in Iraq, we can likely expect similar national upheavals.

We're going to have to do something, I think. Recruitment numbers are way down, and troops in Iraq have had their tours extended beyond original commitments to meet troop requirements. The military has the strength to keep going in Iraq and Afghanistan for a while longer, but the likelihood of conflict with Iran increases weekly, and I would not be surprised to see us pushing into another Middle Eastern nation adjoining Iraq a year from now, or deploying fully into Pakistan to address issues there related to civil and terrorist threats. We do not have the military force to wage a spreading action through half of that part of the world, plain and simple. An untrained and unwilling force it may be, but a drafted force may be necessary to get enough warm bodies into positions that need them. The real 'political suicide' is those who continue to insist that it's just not going to happen, no matter what.

Meggers is right, by the way. It is about discriminatory policies in the military. I'd like it if 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' went away forever. Having nothing was better than that measure, because at least 'nothing' presented a clear example of a problem to be overcome.

I do think that we'll see student organizations picketing recruitment activities more and more, and I hope that protestors can remember the rules of nonviolent protest and keep their own fringe under control.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.