Saturday, December 10, 2005

On the Solomon Amendment

In The New York Times, Yale law professor Peter Schuck sums up what's wrong with universities banning military recruiters and then demanding federal funding:

The Supreme Court is now considering whether to uphold the Solomon Amendment, a federal law barring federal funds to universities that deny the military the same access that civilian employers enjoy to recruit students.

In the affirmative action cases involving university admissions that the Supreme Court decided in 2003, the universities invoked their educational expertise to defend a definition of applicant merit that disadvantaged whites and Asians; now they argue that the military may not invoke its warfighting expertise to define merit in a way that disadvantages gays.

The universities' position on government threats to cut off financing to enforce public policies is also inconsistent. A quarter century ago, many universities argued that Bob Jones University's tax exempt status and access to federal loans should be revoked because its racial policies violated civil rights law. Now the universities argue that their own funding should not be revoked for violating another federal policy...

A university's moral and pedagogical duty to its students is to cultivate their capacity for independent thinking, explain its own view (if it has one) and then get out of the way. The students' duty is to listen carefully - and then make their own decisions.

The full article is worth reading, but those paragraphs sum up the issue very effectively.

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