Last month, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed a lawsuit brought by Young America’s Foundation that sought to compel the Secretary of Defense to cut off federal taxpayer funding to the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) for its ongoing violation of the Solomon amendment. UCSC — like so many colleges and universities — refuses to provide military recruiters safe and equal access to school sponsored job fairs.
The court’s opinion agreed “the underlying facts of the case are not seriously in dispute.” And yet, the court dismissed the suit based on two arguments the Justice Department put forward on behalf of the Defense Department.
First, “an agency’s decision to undertake, or not to undertake, enforcement action under the Solomon amendment is committed to agency discretion by law and, therefore, judicial review of that decision is unavailable.”
Second, while the court was willing to entertain the Foundation’s unnamed representation of UCSC students (who did not wish to reveal their names for fear of reprisal) the court was not willing to accept the relief the Foundation proposed, and the law mandates, to redress the student’s loss of opportunity. Namely, the court did not accept that cutting-off taxpayer funding to UCSC would, in any way, ameliorate the hostile faculty and student actions that prevent interested students from meeting with military recruiters at job fairs.
Gerald Solomon, the deceased upstate New York congressman and former Marine who sponsored the law, would have differed on both points.
Because of past (and present) Defense Department resistance to calling out universities for institutionally-sanctioned anti-military policies and behavior, Solomon, with a large contingent of supporters from both sides of the aisle, pushed his eponymous legislation precisely to strip discretion from the Secretary of Defense on such matters.
Amazing, isn’t it? Congress has a long history of legislative mandates, both funded and unfunded, mostly with an aim at regulating individuals’ behavior and limiting their freedoms. Highway speed limits, a legal drinking age of 21, campaign finance reform, you name it.
Then, flipping that longstanding Beltway logic on its head, along comes a law seeking to expand the opportunities young people have for voluntary military service by curtailing the outrageous taxpayer subsidization of anti-military behavior on campus and telling federal bureaucrats to enforce the law and KABOOM! The educational and governmental bureaucracies go ballistic.
Taxpayers stipulating where and how they want their money spent? Forget it! We know better!
Leverage citizens’ hard-earned dollars to make our defenses stronger? No way! We and our pals in academia are more important!
No wonder roughly a decade passed from the time the earliest implementing regulations hit the Federal Register to when the first enforcement gestures began. And, as soon as they did, the educational establishment picked-up where the government’s bureaucratic inattention left off, by suing to prevent Solomon enforcement.
The Bush administration did, to its credit, fight for the Solomon amendment and win — ultimately garnering unanimous validation from the United States Supreme Court in early 2006. And then what, after this great victory? Nothing — until May 2007, when President Bush hosted an ROTC commissioning ceremony at the White House, publicly acknowledging, for the first time, the plight of students who attend schools hostile to the military:
…some of you have had to endure even greater hardships — because your universities do not allow ROTC on campus. For those of you in this position, this can require long commutes several times a week to another campus that does offer ROTC…It should not be hard for our great schools of learning to find room to honor the service of men and women who are standing up to defend the freedoms that make the work of our universities possible. To the cadets and midshipmen who are graduating from a college or university that believes ROTC is not worthy of a place on campus, here is my message: Your university may not honor your military service, but the United States of America does.
Why — when the President’s words are powerfully right — are the actions of his Justice and Defense Departments profoundly wrong?.
Since the earliest days of this administration, Young America’s Foundation has been reaching out to encourage strict enforcement of the Solomon amendment, in order to improve opportunities for students to serve their country and to force an accounting of institutions hostile to our military.
So far though, little more than lip service has come from the Executive, while calls for Congressional oversight fell on deaf ears both before and after San Fran Nan’s ascendancy to leadership, leaving judicial recourse as a last resort.
Confounding, isn’t it? This administration fought for Solomon’s principles, but has hesitated to put them into practice. And now, they have succeeded in strategically bolstering the anti-military position — aiding those opposed to the principle of the Solomon amendment, rather than working with a group whose sole vested interest is expanding volunteer military opportunities.
If so-called conservatives are this good at eviscerating their own creations, turning them into pyrrhic victories, it’s no wonder why the radical, leftist hegemony that has long besieged our government and our college campuses remains intact, much less emboldened now. Nothing like giving your enemies a roadmap to attack…
Despite this setback, Young America’s Foundation will continue to lead the fight for greater opportunities for students to serve their nation.