The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that military recruiters must have the same kind of access as other employers coming onto campus to give out information and conduct job interviews, if the campus receives federal money. Most campuses rely on some share of the $35 billion the government channels each year to higher education.
The law that blocks this funding is known as the Solomon Amendment, and it has become a point of contention for many law schools. Here’s a brief history of the Solomon Amendment that I found at a protest site:
In 1995, Congress passed the first Solomon Amendment, denying schools that barred military recruiters from campus any funds from the Department of Defense. The next year, Congress extended the law’s reach to include funds from the Departments of Education, Labor, and Health & Human Services. In 1999, legislation shepherded by Rep. Barney Frank removed financial aid funds from the federal monies potentially affected by the Solomon Amendment. Defense Department regulations proposed in 2000 and formally adopted in 2002 exponentially toughened the law by interpreting it to require revocation of federal grants to an entire university if only one of the university’s subdivisions (its law school, for example) runs afoul of the law. In 2005, Congress amended the law to explicitly state that military recruiters must be given equal access to that provided other recruiters.
In a sane world, this would be a stupid law. Presumably, these schools are receiving federal money for a reason. Either they are providing services to the government, such as research or program management, or the money is being given to them to serve a public purpose such as educating the people of this country. The point is, the schools are receiving money because the government needs something that they can provide.
The government’s need for the school’s services doesn’t go away just because the school stops allowing military recruiters on campus, so it doesn’t make sense to stop buying that service. If the government still needs whatever it’s paying the school to do, then it should keep paying the school, otherwise it should stop. Recruiting has nothing to do with it.
That would be in a sane world. In our world, a lot of schools receive money as a blatant handout by politicians trying to gain support re-election. The schools ought to expect to find a few strings attached.