To the Editor:
Last year, a group of Yale Law School students and faculty members challenged the Solomon Amendment (withholding federal funding from universities denying campus access to military recruiters) in federal district court in Bridgeport, Conn. Arguments were heard in early December 2004, and on Feb. 1, 2005, Judge Janet C. Hall granted summary judgment (in effect, a ruling at the very start in favor of) to the plaintiffs. As a result, Yale Law School has decided to ban military recruiting at YLS, becoming the second Ivy League law school to bar access to military recruiters (Harvard Law School reinstituted its military recruiting ban late last year).
It should be noted that the Solomon Amendment does not forbid schools from denying access to military recruiters; it just states that federal funding will be withheld from those that do. The difference between YLS’s decision and HLS’s decision is that Yale has the law on its side. The relevant federal law for Yale Law School is that of the 2nd Circuit, of which the Connecticut District Court (the court which issued this ruling) is part. Therefore, until either the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court overrules it, the ruling of the Connecticut District Court is the law in Connecticut, and YLS can bar military recruiters and still receive federal funding. Harvard Law School, however, reinstituted its ban following a 2-1 ruling by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Harvard is located within the First Circuit, which has not ruled against the Solomon Amendment. Therefore, the law in Massachusetts is that schools which bar military recruiters will be denied federal funding (and thus, HLS should lose federal funding). For both schools, the result is the same: Military recruiters are not allowed to recruit at Yale or Harvard. But the schools’ means are different: Yale is banning military recruiters with the support of the law, while Harvard is banning them in spite of it.
Feb. 11, 2005
The writer is a third-year student at Harvard Law School.