NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 7, 2006

The Supreme Court yesterday ruled against universities that had prohibited military recruiters on campus. The justices unanimously upheld a 1996 federal law that permits the government to withhold funds from universities that deny military recruiters the same access to students that is allowed other potential employers.

According to the Washington Times:

  • Several universities had banned military recruiters to protest the Pentagon's policy against open homosexuality in the armed forces.
  • The ruling arrives as the Pentagon struggles to achieve recruiting goals for an all-volunteer military force facing the strain of prolonged deployments required by the ongoing war on terrorism.
  • The case grew from a suit brought by a coalition of law schools and professors, who argued that their First Amendment right of free expression was violated by the 1996 law because it forced them to associate with and promote the activities of military recruiters.

Chief Justice Roberts rejected that argument, saying, "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 chief justice said that the legal core of the case had nothing to do with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy and that allowing military recruiters at universities is paramount to attracting talent to the armed forces -- particularly to the ranks of military lawyers.

Source: Guy Taylor, "Military ban on campus rejected," Washington Times, March 7, 2006; and Editorial, "Army 8, Yale 0," Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2006.


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