GUEST OPINION: An open letter to President Summers


The following letter was delivered to The Record for publication:

President Lawrence SummersMassachusetts HallHarvard University

Dear President Summers,

According to its stated policy, Harvard Law School “does not discriminate against any person on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, gender, [or] sexual orientation,” as well as various other bases. In line with this commitment, any employer wishing to use the services of the Office of Career Services must sign a statement indicating that it does not discriminate in ways prohibited by our policy. Representatives of the U.S. military are unable to sign such a statement because of the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” approach to sexual orientation. As a consequence, access to OCS services would normally be denied military recruiters and was denied until 2002.

According to a provision of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, Sec. 514(b), commonly known as the Solomon Amendment, federal funds may be denied to institutions of higher education that restrict or deny access to military recruiters. In January, 2000, federal officials adopted an interpretation of the Solomon Amendment providing that an educational institution may lose all federal funding if any “sub-element” of that institution, such as a law school, denies access to military recruiters.

Given the risk that federal funding received by Harvard University as a whole would be lost if the Law School insisted on its OCS policy of employer compliance, the Law School in 2002 opened its recruitment services to representatives of the U.S. military.

Given these circumstances, we urge you to initiate or join litigation designed to challenge the Solomon Amendment.


The following members of the Harvard Law School faculty:

William AlfordSamuel BagenstosDavid BarronElizabeth BartholetScott BrewerJohn CoatesChristine DesanCharles DonahueRichard FallonRoger FisherWilliam FisherGerald FrugHeather GerkenRyan GoodmanLani GuinierJanet HalleyDaniel HalperinJon HansonPhilip HeymannMorton HorwitzChristine JollsDavid KennedyDuncan KennedyRandall KennedyReinier KraakmanKenneth MackFrank MichelmanMartha MinowRobert MnookinTodd RakoffFrank SanderLewis SargentichMargo SchlangerDavid ShapiroJoseph SingerCarol SteikerHenry SteinerAlan StoneGuhan SubramanianLaurence TribeArthur von MehrenElizabeth WarrenLucie WhiteDavid WilkinsBernard WolfmanJonathan Zittrain

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