Supreme Court Signals Support of Military Recruiting at Colleges, Universities

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON

The Supreme Court appeared ready earlier this month to rule against colleges that want to limit military recruiting on campus to protest the Pentagon's policy on homosexuals.

New Chief Justice John Roberts and other court justices signaled support for a law that says schools that accept federal money also have to accommodate military recruiters. The justices seemed concerned about hindering a U.S. Department of Defense need to fill its ranks when the nation is at war.

"There's the right in the Constitution to raise a military," Roberts said.

Law school campuses have become the latest battleground over the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which allows homosexuals to serve in the military only if they keep their sexual orientation to themselves.

A group of law schools and professors had sued the Pentagon, claiming their free-speech rights are being violated because they are forced to associate with military recruiters or promote their campus appearances. Many law schools forbid the participation of recruiters from public agencies and private companies that have discriminatory policies.

E. Joshua Rosenkranz, the lawyer for the schools, told justices: "There are two messages going on here and they are clashing. There is the military's message, which the schools are interpreting as 'Uncle Sam does not want you,' and there is the school's message which is 'we do not abet those who discriminate. That is immoral.'"

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy said: "Your argument would allow schools to exclude anybody in a uniform from a cafeteria."

Justice Stephen Breyer said that although many people disagree with government policies, that doesn't give them the right to disobey the law.

Outside court, about a halfdozen supporters of the law from Topeka, Kan., waved signs and yelled at reporters and passers-by in front of the court before the argument.

Dan Noble, 26, a gay Yale University Law School student who camped out overnight to get a courtroom seat, said, "You feel discriminated against when some recruiters will interview your fellow students but won't interview you. …

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