The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has reversed a district court decision, ruling against Yale Law School in Burt v. Rumsfeld thereby upholding the Solomon Amendment which denies certain federal funding to a college or university if any part of the college or university refuses military recruiters equal access to its students and campuses.
Scott Johnson notes the nobility of the University administration’s commitment to the interests of “the world at large.”
I happened to be at Yale in October 2003 when Navy Judge Advocate General recruiter Brian Whitaker was scheduled to meet with students interested in serving as Navy lawyers. Virtually all Yale law students had signed a petition vowing not to meet with Whitaker or other JAG recruiters. The petition was publicly posted inside the law school as part of a protest display that included black and camouflage wall hangings. The one law student scheduled to meet with Whitaker cancelled the interview.
The ostensible cause of the consternation occasioned by Whitaker’s visit was the military’s compliance with the federal “don’t ask/don’t tell” law on homosexual conduct in the armed forces. Law schools across the country had hindered military recruiters from meeting with law students because the military’s adherence to the “don’t ask/don’t tell” law violates nondiscrimination policies enforced by the schools against on-campus recruiters.
Whitaker’s putative right to visit Yale Law School despite its nondiscrimination policy was attributable solely to the Bush administration’s enforcement of the Solomon Amendment requiring federally-funded universities to open their doors to military recruiters or risk losing federal funds. After 9/11 the Defense Department began to threaten enforcement of the amendment, and law schools began to comply. At Yale, for example, the law school has waived its nondiscrimination policy in order to preserve the university’s annual $350 million in federal funding only since the fall of 2002. Then-law school Dean Anthony Kronman explained:
We would never put at risk the overwhelmingly large financial interests of the University in federal funding. We have a point of principle to defend, but we will not defend this–at the expense of programs vital to the University and the world at large.
Dean Kronman paid a backhanded tribute to the “money talks” impetus behind the Solomon Amendment. The Kronman Doctrine provides: For the good of the world, Yale must retain access to your money.