Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Solomon Amendment

Noticed that the students at Yale are up in arms over the Solomon Amendment (get it, up in arms?)(ok, sorry it was dumb). A couple of organizations on campus called Outlaws and SAME (basically the same organization: Student/Faculty Alliance for Military Equality) are filing a complaint against the Amendment, which allows the military to recruit on campus, no matter how the school or students feel about the military’s don’t ask don’t tell policy, as long as the campus accepts government funding.

But this is, of course, after the Supreme Court in Washington (yes, that one) upheld the amendment last week. This article, talking about that event, notes that the Penn Law School is also challenging the amendment. Although their argument might be a bit better, this is almost a moot point, as I don’t see SCOTUS taking this up again unless there’s a really good reason. You take federal bucks? You need to allow fed access to your campus for recruiting. End of story. Penn Law argument is that they already allow access to the military through Career Services, as other employers do. Sure, but those other employers probably don’t give thousands upon millions to your school either.

Anyway, back to the Yale argument. They maintain that the amendment violates the First and Fifth amendments to the Constitution.

Put aside that they are basically challenging the wisdom of judges with more experience studying the Constitution in their pinkies then these law students have in their whole bodies. Take a look at the first and fifth amendments.

First: free speech. Really, no one is taking away anyone’s right to say what they feel here, as evidenced by SAME’s ability to vigorously oppose this in the first place. Perhaps they are talking about the Military’s suppression of gay people’s right to declare themselves gay. But that really doesn’t apply here. If that’s the case they should be suing the military. But that’s been tried, hasn’t it.

Fifth: Trial and punishment. What? What does this have to do with trial and punishment? The fifth amendment was a protection against the government holding you without cause or taking your property without compensation.

OK I'm reading the legal complaint filed by SAME here, and I'm no legal expert, but it seems pretty thin to me. They are arguing that they have reasonable cauzation or "injury in fact" to bring before the court. I.E. they have to argue that they will suffer "injury" in some way or form from the amendment. Since there is no personal, financial or bodily injury that they will suffer, I think they are relying on the grounds of the amendment defying certian constitutional rights, but like I said it seems pretty thin.

The right includes the right not to associate, and government actions that force "intrusion into the internal structure or affairs of an association" may unconstitutionally burden this right.
Basically they are saying that since it's against the policy of the school to associate with any organization that discriminates against any group of individuals for reasons of race, sex, etc. And the Federal government is forcing them to because the Solomon Amendment forces them to allow the military to use school resources to recruit. And the military discriminates with the "don't ask don't tell" policy.

But I think the problem here is that the federal government isn't really forcing them to do anything. It's a condition of the money that they get from the feds. If they really believe they shouldn't associate with the military, if they are willing to accept the consequences for their moral positions, then all they have to do is stop accepting money from Uncle Sam. How is that discriminating?
Their position on the First Amendment to the Constitution is exceedingly thin. In another section they try to prove that the Solomon Amendment somehow prevents the school from communicating with the students its message that discrimination against gays is wrong. I'm not sure how they are going to prove that.

More later.

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