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Message to Supreme Court: Protect Student Rights

Don’t restrict military recruiters from campuses

Once again, our nation’s elite universities are in the news for trying to ban the free flow of information on college campuses. Today, the Supreme Court will hear Rumsfeld v. FAIR, a case that pits a student’s right to hear from military recruiters against academia’s alleged right to ban their presence on campus over the government’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. The case questions the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment, which requires schools receiving federal funding to grant military recruiters the same opportunity afforded to other employment recruiters.

Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR)—made up of 31 law schools, including Harvard, Boston College, University of California, and New York University—is asking the Supreme Court to strike down the Solomon Amendment on the grounds that it violates the law schools’ free speech and free association rights. This is an important opportunity for the Supreme Court to stand up for students’ rights and protect the First Amendment from being misinterpreted to advance a liberal agenda.

Free speech is under attack, and students are the ones suffering. Let’s remember that if FAIR gets its way, students would be the ones restricted from speaking with recruiters. Left-wing lawyers are the one seeking to squelch expression. Moreover, it’s degrading to know that FAIR finds it necessary to shield their students from views leftists find objectionable. It’s not as though members of FAIR represent a kindergarten club—those attending law school are over the age of 21.

FAIR’s crusade to ban recruiters underscores the notion that the Left is anti-military. If they find the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy problematic, then why not mobilize the high-powered, prestigiously educated lawyers to overturn the statute? Even if the Solomon Amendment is struck down, gays still can’t openly identify their orientation in the military. The real bill under contention is left unimpaired. Attack Congress, not students!

The Left is quick to point out that only the poor and disadvantaged serve, yet in the same breath they are trying to deter the recruitment of those fortunate enough to attend privileged law schools. If liberals were serious about changing the socioeconomic makeup of the military, they would not seek to maintain a separation between the armed forces and elite institutions. And if you add to the mix the fact that FAIR’s schools such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford do not allow students to participate in ROTC, it becomes strikingly clear that academia possesses intolerant and hateful attitudes toward the military.

It’s astonishing that anyone in these schools does not find FAIR’s arguments hostile toward the nature of higher education. Schools were created not for teachers and administrators to make policy statements, but for students to be introduced to a variety of viewpoints. In essence, law schools are asserting that they have the right to keep students from hearing messages that leftists find offensive. Students have the academic freedom to connect with all circuits of information, not only those approved by leftist administrators and professors. To limit a student’s employment opportunity is unethical and mean.

FAIR board member Chai Feldblum and FAIR attorney Joshua Rosenkranz have both demonstrated that they do not represent students, but are instead left-wing ideologues. Feldblum posits that law schools should not “affirmatively assist” the military by helping set up materials, interviews, and hold forums for students wishing to speak with a JAG Core recruiter. Rosenkranz doesn’t even believe that a student’s speech rights are at risk. “When Congress penalizes a law school for adhering to its message and refusing to assist military recruiters to disseminate theirs, it infringes” on a school’s First Amendment rights.

On C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, Feldblum dodged the issue of student rights by babbling in clichés. “Law is but the mean, justice is the end.” To Feldblum, of course, justice means rescinding the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. We need to remind Feldblum and her elitist friends that they cannot monopolize the definition of justice because there is not one orthodox view. For example, justice can mean something entirely different to me from what it can mean to Feldblum. In fact, the reason law schools even exist is to teach students how to analyze the premises and assumptions informing arguments and reflecting further on the judicial system. Law schools are not in existence to take ideological positions.

The plain fact, though, is that leftists such as Feldblum and Rosenkranz are not concerned with a university’s free speech or with discrimination. FAIR takes no interest with the government’s mandate that colleges and universities receiving federal funds must abide by the Title IX Education Amendments of 1972, which says schools must provide substantial and proportional assistance to female sports as they do to male sports. Nor are they troubled by the Supreme Court endorsing the University of Michigan’s discriminatory system of racial preferences.

FAIR’s silence over “speech” and “discrimination” only confirms that it considers higher education as a venue to mold students into little leftist soldiers. With the Solomon Amendment, students hear from various employment recruiters, including military recruiters. Law professors have a natural forum within the university to protest the military if they choose to do so. Professors’ right of protest or association is not under infringement. Without the Solomon Amendment, students don’t hear from military recruiters. Period. Their recourse is to research military careers on their own, creating an inherent disadvantage and bias for those who may wish to pursue a profession with the military.

Even the Left’s use of the term “discrimination” can be applied to go much further than sexual orientation. In the world of FAIR, law schools can also ban military recruiters because paraplegics aren’t allowed to join. Since FAIR has adopted the American Association of Law Schools’ definition of discrimination, which includes a category for the disabled, there’s nothing stopping leftist academicians from decrying rules that prevent the lame, paralyzed, or mentally slow from joining the military.

University administrators enjoy the freedoms protected by the military, yet they do not allow students to prepare themselves to defend this country. Their worldview keeps them consistently anti-military—from the Vietnam War, to the Cold War, to the current war in Iraq. Let’s be frank. The Left loathes the military—they will always come up with a reason to deter student enlistment. This time around, sexuality is the flavor of the month.

Written By

Mr. Mattera is the editor-at-large of HUMAN EVENTS and the author of the New York Times bestseller Obama Zombies: How the Liberal Machine Brainwashed My Generation (Simon & Schuster). He also hosts The Jason Mattera Show on News Talk Radio 77WABC. Previously, he was the Spokesman for Young America's Foundation and a TV correspondent for Michelle Malkin. Follow Jason on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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