Should universities be forced to allow military recruiters on their campuses or risk losing Federal financial aid? That is the question that the Supreme Court will take up on December 6th, when it hears the government’s appeal of the Third Circuit Court’s decision, in the case of FAIR v. Rumsfeld, to strike down the Solomon Amendment. New York University Professors Sylvia A. Law and Burt Neuborne, along with other professors and students, founded FAIR (Forum for Academic and Institution Rights) in 2003, to challenge the amendment’s constitutionality.
The Solomon Amendment was passed in 1994, in the wake of the government’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy toward gays’ serving in the military. Under the amendment’s terms, institutions of higher education that prevent ROTC access or that ban military recruiting on their campuses lose their Federal financial aid. FAIR objects to military recruiting on campuses because recruitment practices fall short of the Equal Opportunity Employment standards which other groups recruiting on college campuses must meet.
Originally, NYU’s School of Law chose to forfeit its government money in the hopes of maintaining the impartiality of all recruiters on the campus. But a change in the law in 1999 meant that, if one part of a school failed to comply, the entire university would lose its Federal support, including undergraduate financial aid. For NYU, this would have meant a loss of $130 million dollars a year in government funds. In 2002, military recruiters were allowed back on the law school campus. But Professors Law and Neuborne devised a way to contest the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment — the suit argues that it violates a school’s First Amendment rights to protest against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation — and the long trek through the court system began.
Sylvia A. Law, the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law, Medicine and Psychiatry at NYU’s School of Law, was born in Bozeman, MT. She graduated from Antioch College, in Ohio and attended NYU’s School of Law. In 1973 she became a professor at NYU’s School of Law, one of the first two women to do so.
Burt Neuborne, the Inez Milholland Professor of Civil Liberties and Legal Director of the Brennan Center for Justice, was born in Queens, NY. He graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY and attended Harvard Law School. Neuborne is a former legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union and has been a professor at NYU’s School of Law since 1972.
Reporters interested in speaking with Professor Law or Professor Neuborne should contact Elizabeth Fasolino at (212) 998-6849 or firstname.lastname@example.org.