SCOTUS Upholds Solomon Amendment.
SCOTUS ruled unanimously today that law schools must afford military recruiters an equal opportunity with other employers to sign up students. The opinion in Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, et al. v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, Inc. (FAIR), was penned by Chief Justice Roberts.
The case concerns The Solomon Amendment, which denies federal funding to institutions of higher learning that prohibit or prevent the military from gaining access to campuses for purposes of military recruiting that is equal in quality and scopt to the access provided to other employers. According to the SCOTUS opinion, the parties to the litigation agreed that "In order for a law school and its university to receive federal funding, the school must offer military recruiters the same access to its campus and students that it provides to the nonmilitary recruiter receiving the most favorable access."
FAIR represents law schools who desire to deny on campus military recruiting as violative of policies against discrimination -- because the military openly refuses recruitment to openly gay students, law schools consider the military's recruitment policy to be discriminatory. SCOTUS held that it was insufficient compliance with the Solomon Amendment for law schools to deny on campus recruiting to "all" potential employers who might discriminate against homosexuals.
SCOTUS rejected all First Amendment challenges to The Solomon Amendment. SCOTUS rejected the notion that allowing military recruiters on campus amounted to compelled speech and found that Congress had authority to command colleges to accept military recruiters under Congress' power to raise and support armies. Notably, it appears that SCOTUS did not rely on Congress' rather broad spending clause powers, but rather suggested that Congress could directly impose requirements of military access under the power to raise and support armies.
Rumsfeld v. FAIR Opinion
SCOTUS Blog Follow-up
How Appealing post with links to nation-wide press coverage. (March 7, 2006)