Yale wins court victory over military recruiting

BY HUGO TORRES

Following the decision by Harvard Law School to ban military recruiters, Yale Law school declared last week that it would not allow military recruiters access to campus recruiting due to discriminatory practices against gays and lesbians.

Unlike HLS however, which based its decision on a Third Circuit ruling, the Yale decision arises from a direct lawsuit initiated by Yale students and faculty. Judge Janet C. Hall, a federal district judge in Connecticut, heard arguments in December and granted summary judgment in favor of the Yale plaintiffs, enjoining the Defense Deparment from enforcing the Solomon Amendment against Yale Law School. Judge Hall noted that “[T]he Solomon Amendment is not narrowly tailored to advance a compelling government interest, and thus unjustifiably burdens the Faculty Members’ First Amendment right of expressive association.”

The earlier Third Circuit ruling similarly rested on First Amendment grounds and likewise noted a lack of compelling government interest

Dean Harold Hongju Koh of Yale Law School issued a statement in response to the ruling. “I am gratified by Judge Hall’s judgment, which seems to me clearly correct,” wrote Dean Koh. “I believe that her ruling brings us closer to the day when all members of our community have an equal opportunity to serve in our Nation’s armed forces.”

Though military recruiters were scheduled to arrive at Yale for spring recruiting just a few days after the ruling, Dean Koh promptly informed the military that it would no longer be welcome. “In light of the District Court’s opinion and injunction which parallel the Third Circuit’s ruling, I am notifying military recruiters that the Yale Law School will enforce its nondiscrimination policy during the Spring 2005 Interviewing Program without exception.”

The Crimson reported that the mood at Yale was “joyful” in light of the ruling. According to The Crimson, a protest had been planned by gay rights activists priort to the legal victory.

In related news, Third Circuit Judge Thomas L. Ambro put the earlier Third Circuit ruling on hold until further notice, giving government lawyers time to ask for the Supreme Court to step in before the ruling takes effect.

It is unclear what impact the Yale decision and Third Circuit hold will have on HLS, as HLS has not directly been affected by any case challenging the Solomon Amendment. In theory, HLS can be prosecuted by the government, as no decision has overturned the Solomon Amendment for the First Circuit.

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