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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Harvard Reverses Course, Gives Access to Military Recruiters After Pentagon Threatens to Invoke Solomon Amendment

Last week, we blogged the U.S. Defense Department's decision barring New York, Vermont, and William Mitchell law schools from receiving federal grants for violating the Solomon Amendment by denying access to military recruiters.  An Inside Higher Ed story questioned the Defense Department's decision to go after "the little guys" while "Harvard’s law school, which last fall declared its intention to bar military recruiters, seems to have been left alone so far." Todd Zywicki at The Volokh Conspiracy noted that since these three are stand alone law schools unattached to larger universities, the Government's action was narrowly focused on law schools and did not raise the issue of withholding funding for an entire university as a result of the law school's decisions.

The Harvard Crimson reported yesterday that Harvard has changed course and will permit the military to recruit at the law school after the Pentagon threatened to withhold federal grants to Harvard:

Harvard Law School will actively cooperate with military recruiters this fall, despite the Pentagon’s refusal to sign the school’s nondiscrimination pledge, Dean Elena Kagan announced this evening.

Kagan’s announcement marks a reversal of her November 2004 decision to bar Pentagon recruiters from using the law school’s Office of Career Services. For most of the last 26 years, the office has only provided its resources to recruiters who promise not to discriminate against gay and lesbian employees and job applicants. The Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy prohibits gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

In an e-mail to students and faculty this evening, Kagan wrote that the Pentagon had notified the University this summer that it would withhold most federal grants to Harvard unless the Law School altered its policy to allow military recruiters access to the resources of the career services office. Harvard receives more than $400 million per year in federal grants.

Meanwhile, University President Lawrence H. Summers said in a statement tonight that Harvard will file a friend-of-the-court brief tomorrow urging the Supreme Court to invalidate the Solomon Amendment, the statute passed by Congress in 1994 that allows the secretary of defense to block federal funds to universities that deny military recruiters “equal access” to campuses.

(Hat tip: lawschool.com.)

Update:

Update II:  The Wall Street Journal chides Harvard:  "Now we know where Harvard stands when given the choice between sticking to its 'principles' and feeding from the government trough."

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2005/09/harvard_reverse.html

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