Harvard Law waives nondiscrimination pledge for military recruiters

[JURIST] Harvard Law School [official website] will open its career services office to military recruiters beginning this fall, despite the Pentagon's refusal to sign the school's nondiscrimination pledge, Dean Elena Kagan [official profile] said Tuesday in a letter [text] to the law school community. According to Kagan, the Pentagon notified the University it would withhold federal grants, from which Harvard receives more than $400 million per year, under the Solomon Amendment [text] if the school continued to bar the Pentagon from the office. The military has traditionally not been allowed to recruit within the law school because the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy [text] violates the school's nondiscrimination policy, but the Solomon Amendment allows the US Defense Secretary to block federal grants to "institutions of higher learning that prevent ROTC access or military recruiting on campus." The Pentagon announced last week [Federal Register notice] that New York Law School [official website] is also ineligible for federal funds because of the institution's prohibition on military recruitment on campus and a Pentagon spokeswoman has also named Vermont Law School [official website] and William Mitchell College of Law [official website] as being in violation of the amendment and potentially facing loss of federal funding.

The US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit suspended enforcement [opinion PDF] of the Solomon Amendment last year in a case brought by a group of law students and professors against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, stating it "requires law schools to express a message that is incompatible with their educational objective," thus violating the school's rights to free speech. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case [Duke Law backgrounder] in May and oral arguments are scheduled for December. A group of over 40 Harvard faculty members announced Wednesday that they have filed an amicus brief [PDF text] in the case. The Harvard Crimson has more. Inside Higher Ed has additional coverage.

 

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