Tuesday, November 30, 2004

An Illiberal Decision

The Moose decries a "liberal" court decision that is far from progressive.

The Moose is a strong supporter of a robust national service program. Particularly during a time of war, sacrifice should not be limited to just a small part of the population. JFK was right - we should ask not what our country can do for us, but rather what we can do for our country. The Moose supports expanded opportunities to serve in civilian and military capacities.

Over the years, the left has lamented that the military draws disproportionately from lower economic groups. The Moose agrees that those who have benefited most from our nation should also be encouraged to defend our country. That is why he is disappointed in this Federal Appeals Court decision as reported in the New York Times today,

Universities may bar military recruiters from their campuses without risking the loss of federal money, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The 2-to-1 decision relied in large part on a decision in 2000 by the United States Supreme Court to allow the Boy Scouts to exclude gay scoutmasters. Just as the Scouts have a First Amendment right to bar gays, the appeals court said, law schools may prohibit groups that they consider discriminatory.

The 1995 law at issue in the decision, the Solomon Amendment, barred the federal government from disbursing money to colleges and universities that obstruct campus recruiting by the military. As amended and interpreted over the years, the law prohibits disbursements to all parts of a university, including its physics department and medical school, if any of its units, like its law school, make military recruiting even a little more difficult.

This decision was in response to a suit brought by several elite law schools. One can be opposed to the military's policy on gays, however, and still be disturbed by the ramifications of this decision. While these law schools may object to the military's policy, which was made by a democratically elected President and constitutionally upheld, they still enjoy the protection of our armed services. And the net effect of the policy of the law schools is to help shield a largely elite population from serving in the military.

Another progressive point against this decision was made by supporter of the law,

A ruling of this sort will cause the military to end up with a lower quality of lawyer," Mr. Bashman said. "These lawyers are involved in targeting decisions and in decisions about how prisoners have to be treated."

If these law schools are truly principled perhaps they will either not take money from a government that pursues such an objectionable policy or else reject the protections of the United States Military.
-- Posted at 3:28 PM | Link to this post | Email this post