Kagan and the Recruiters

Reports abound that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan tossed military recruiters from Harvard Law School when she served as dean, 2003-2008. The recruiters were at Harvard looking for future barristers to join up. Kagan took issue with Defense Department’s policy regarding the service of homosexuals known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

Recent news reports have painted Kagan as a lone ranger, but many law schools were gunning for military recruiters. Once the 1996 Solomon Amendment, in which Congress said it could deny federal funding to schools that did not permit recruiters or ROTC on campus, was declared unconstitutional, Kagan quickly made her move in 2004, as did others. (The Solomon Amendment has been through many rewrites since.)

Looking back before Kagan’s tenure as dean, a 1999 article in MIT’s “The Tech” reported, “The 162 institutions belonging to the American Association of Law Schools, including Stanford, have pledged to bar campus employment recruiters who discriminate by sexual orientation.” Even in the mid-1990s schools like Stanford were tossing recruiters. Just as with secondary schools, Congress pointed out these elite law schools had students who received federal funding.

Enter the Solomon Amendment. Schools had a choice: Lose the financially disadvantaged students (and other federal funds) and stand against DoD policy on homosexual service or open to business as usual. Most schools backed down, but it has been reported New York University law school kept its ban in place and did not lose its federal funding.

In 1999 Harvard allowed the recruiters on campus but would not allow them to use the career development center.

It seems there are two law schools currently that prohibit military recruiters – Vermont and William Mitchell College of Law, St. Paul, Minn.

We’re not advocating for Elena Kagan. But the military recruiter controversy has been widespread. Not that one would know it from reading recent reports.

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