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Supreme Court to
address campus bans on antigay military recruiters

Supreme Court to
address campus bans on antigay military recruiters

Lower courts have ruled colleges may keep out recruiters who discriminate against gays

The Supreme Court on Tuesday will hear arguments in a case that challenges a federal law preventing colleges and universities that receive federal grants from barring military recruiters from their campuses because the military discriminates against gays and lesbians. Colleges that continue to bar the recruiters can have millions in federal grants revoked under the Solomon Amendment, a law passed in 1995 and expanded in 1996 that prohibits any school that bars military recruiters from receiving grants from the departments of Defense, Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services.

Gay U.S. representative Barney Frank in 1999 spearheaded legislation that exempted federal student loan funds from the Solomon Amendment.

The case going before the high court on Tuesday, called Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights v. Rumsfeld, has been brought by a coalition of law schools that say the law is unconstitutional because it wrongly allows the military to violate their colleges' policies banning discrimination against gays. Three law schools--New York Law School, Vermont Law School, and the William Mitchell College of Law--reportedly already have lost some federal funds because they continue to require that military recruiters adhere to their nondiscrimination policies.

The third U.S. circuit court of appeals in November 2004 ruled in favor of the colleges, but the case was appealed to the Supreme Court.

"Our armed forces should recruit among the best and brightest for service to our country. The best and brightest, however, include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, too," said Sharra E. Greer, director of law and policy for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which has filed an amicus brief supporting the colleges challenging the law. "Law schools are simply asking the military to adhere to the same rule as every potential employer recruiting on campus: no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."

A decision by the high court in the case isn't expected for several months.

For more information on the Solomon Amendment and efforts to overturn it, go online to (

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