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Alabama judge rejects Yale law students over pro-gay policy

Alabama judge rejects Yale law students over pro-gay policy

A federal judge in Alabama has announced he will not consider Yale Law students for clerkships because Yale limits military recruiters' access to students due to the armed services' ban on openly gay soldiers. William M. Acker Jr., a senior judge with the U.S. district court for the northern district of Alabama in Birmingham and a 1952 graduate of Yale Law School, last month wrote to Yale Law School dean Harold Hongju Koh about his decision. "Please consider this an act of loyalty to YLS," Acker wrote. A federal judge ruled in January that a federal law requiring universities to allow military recruiters on campus violates a school's constitutional right to free speech. Immediately following the ruling, Yale's law school returned to its decades-old policy of banning military recruiters. The school, which temporarily halted that policy in 2002 to avoid losing federal funding, requires recruiters to sign a nondiscrimination pledge to prevent antigay bias. Koh said Acker is the only judge he knows of who has acted against Yale in that way. "I regret that one of our judicial alumni is not permitting our students to work with and gain the benefits of his view," he said. "I hope he will reconsider." Military recruiters are not barred from the campus, but they are not included in the law school's job interview program. The school's policy was unchallenged for years, even after the 1995 passage of the Solomon Amendment, which allows the Pentagon to cut funding to schools that prohibit or prevent military recruiters' access to students. Acker said he will continue to refuse Yale law students for clerkships "until YLS changes its mind" or until the courts rule that the Solomon Amendment is constitutional and enforceable by the government. He also wrote that he is "exercising the same freedom of speech" that was protected for the Yale Law School faculty. "Some of my very best law clerks have been from the law school from which I proudly graduated," Acker wrote. "I thereby recognize that this publicly announced decision will hurt me more than the allowing of military recruiters would hurt YLS." A clerk in Acker's office told The Hartford [Conn.] Courant that the judge would not comment on his letter. Acker, 77, was nominated to the federal bench by President Reagan in 1982. Carl C. Monk, executive director of the Association of American Law Schools, said in the 15 years he has been with the organization he has not heard of a judge withholding employment from an entire law school. "I certainly regret that any employer would refuse to consider students that graduate from a school that has chosen to exclude discriminatory employers, whether that employer be the military or any other," he said. (AP)

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