Recent Decisions-SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

Article excerpt

FINAL DECISION

DOCKET NO.: 04-1152

NAME: Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic & Institutional Rights

DATE: Mar. 6th, 2006

A group of law schools and law professors (collectively known as FAIR) sought an injunction against the enforcement of the Solomon Amendment alleging that it infringed their First Amendment freedoms of speech and association. The Solomon Amendment was passed in response to the actions of certain law schools which began restricting the access of military recruiters to their students because of disagreements with the Government's policy on homosexuals in the military. The Solomon Amendment denies federal funds to any institution of higher education which denies military recruiters equal access to the campus and students than that provided other recruiters. FAIR argued that requiring the military to recruit on their campuses violated the law schools' First Amendment freedoms of speech and association. It did this by forcing a law school to choose between exercising its First Amendment right to decide whether to disseminate or accommodate a military recruiter's message, and ensuring the availability of federal funding for their university.

The district court denied the injunction finding that the inclusion of an unwanted periodic visitor (military recruiters in this case) did not significantly affect the law schools' ability to express their particular message or viewpoint. The federal appellate court reversed ruling that the Solomon Amendment violated the unconstitutional conditions doctrine because it forced a law school to choose between surrendering First Amendment rights and losing federal funding for its university. Held: The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the appellate court. The Supreme Court held that under the Solomon Amendment a law school must offer military recruiters the same access that it provides to non-military recruiters receiving the most favorable access to the campus and its students. The Solomon Amendment does not violate a school's First Amendment rights as it deals with the regulation of conduct and not speech. Any regulation of speech is purely incidental to the regulation of conduct, i.e. the manner in which military recruiters must be given access to the campus and students. The Court contrasted the compelled speech required under the Solomon Amendment (for example requiring an e-mail to go to the military recruiters when one is sent to other recruiters) with compelling someone to pledge allegiance to the flag or forcing a Jehovah's Witness to display a particular motto on his license plate, both examples of unconstitutional practices.

The Court went on to find that the schools are not being forced to speak or adopt the message of the recruiters when they are on campus. The Solomon Amendment does not require the schools to agree with anything said by the military recruiters nor does it prevent them from speaking out against any military policy that they may disagree with, even while the recruiters are on campus. Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic & Institutional Rights, 126 S.Ct. 1297 (2006).

Review Denied

Decisions without published opinions in the lower court:

DOCKET NO.: 05-838

NAME: Murray v. Colorado

DATE: Mar. 6th, 2006

CITATION: cert, denied, 126 S.Ct. 1469 (2006)

DOCKET NO.: 05-1007

NAME: Lopez v. Carr

DATE: Apr. 17th, 2006

CITATION: cert, denied, 126 S.Ct. 11782 (2006)

DOCKET NO.: 05-1048

NAME: Xi v. Bryn Mawr College

DATE: Apr. 17th, 2006

CITATION: cert, denied, 126 S.Ct. 1786 (2006)

Decisions with published opinions in the lower court:

DOCKET NO.: 05-377

NAME: Hosty v. Carter

DATE: Feb. 21, 2006

CITATION: 126 S.Ct. 1330 (2006)

Student members of a state university newspaper claimed that various university officers violated their First Amendment rights when they attempted to block publication of any article without first reviewing its content. …