A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger

By Diane H. Mazur | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
A Canary in the Civil-Military Mine

In Rumsfeld v. FAIR, many amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs were filed with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Amicus briefs are written by individuals and groups who are not parties to the case, but who can offer the court some helpful knowledge or experience that the parties may not have. These outside contributors included even more professors (law and otherwise), military officers, university career-placement professionals, advocacy groups of every political stripe, gay law students, veterans’ organizations, and, oddly, the Boy Scouts of America, who were concerned the case might affect their policy of excluding gay people from scouting. Amicus briefs are not part of the official record of evidence in the case, but they may bring a different perspective to the controversy between the parties. For example, on the intensely polarized issue of military recruiting on law school campuses, the perspective of persons with experience in both settings, in military service and in the study of law, could have been especially illuminating.

One of the amicus briefs in the Third Circuit was filed on behalf of three groups of military-affiliated law students, representing law schools at the University of California, Los Angeles (“UCLAW Veterans Society”); Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas (“Veterans Law Association”); and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia (“Military Law Society”).1 Similar extracurricular groups exist at many law schools, and at the University of Florida College of Law, I am one of the faculty advisors for our Military Law Students Association. Law students who join these organizations are typically military veterans, members of reserve units, or activeduty officers attending law school as a military assignment. Also welcome would be law students who are considering a military career, have an interest in military issues, or come from military families. The primary mission of military law student organizations is to promote mutual support among law students sharing common interests, but they also may engage in service activities on behalf of servicemembers deployed overseas or their family members on the home front. Sometimes these organizations serve as an

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