BY CLINTON DICK
Harvard Law School refused to join a nationwide group of law professors, law schools and students who filed suit against the US Department of Defense and other government agencies alleging First Amendment violations for forcing them to allow military recruiters on campus, despite the existence of non-discrimination policies, the Boston Globe reported.
At issue is the Solomon Amendment, which allows the federal government to threaten schools with zero federal funding if they do not allow military recruiters to participate in on-campus interviewing. Last year then-Law School Dean Robert Clark reversed a policy that had prevented JAG recruiters from suing the Office of Career Services after it was clear the Bush White House was willing to withhold $328 million in federal funds to Harvard University.
At the time Clark explained in an email to students: “Our decision to permit military recruiters access to the facilities and services of OCS does not reduce the Law School’s commitment to the goal of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
According to the Boston Globe, Boston college law professor Kent Greenfield formed the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, which filed suit along with the Society of American Law Teachers, “a liberal association of some 800 law professors,” against the secretaries of defense, education, labor, health and human services, transportation, and homeland security. New Jersey District Court Judge John C. Lifland, who is presiding over the suit, recently held a hearing for a restraining order against the Solomon Amendment before the intense fall recruiting season begins for schools, reported the Boston Globe.
In a statement released after inquiries by the Boston Globe, Dean Kagan said, “Harvard Law School is not a member of this organization, but I share its commitment to nondiscrimination. I look forward to the day when all Americans-regardless of sexual orientation-can serve their country with honor and distinction.”
In response to questions by The Record, Kagan referred only to her statement.
According to Lambda President Amanda Goad, however, Kagan said the decision was not hers to make: “Kagan has indicated to me that the decision was made ‘above’ her, such that I’m more angry at President Summers than the Dean.” Lambda is planning meetings with those involved in the decision-making process to see “what went wrong here,” Goad said.
“There’s a battle going on, and Harvard has chosen not to fight for us,” Goad said, explaining her feelings of betrayal for an administration that “has repeatedly voiced its concern about the recruiting, apparently taking that step to defend gay rights . . . wasn’t ‘worth it’ somehow.”
Goad continued, “HLS’s issuing a statement to say that it was ‘not’ participating, thus detracting from the prestige of the suit, was uncalled for-other schools just declined to answer reporters’ questions.” She said Lambda would make its objections known when JAG recruiters come to the Law School on October 3.