Carol Platt Liebau

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

So now it appears that campuses may have the "right" to ban military recruiters because of Pentagon policy on homosexuals -- even as the schools continue to accept federal money. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Solomon Amendment -- which allows the federal government to withhold funds from colleges and universities that deny access to military recruiters -- is unconstitutional.

Does this make any sense? Hardly. Of course, there's long been a thin line in constitutional law over when the government has the right to withhold money -- it's okay when the money is a "subsidy," but not okay when the withholding of the money constitutes a "penalty." And that formulation has always allowed for a little judicial manipulation, depending on the circumstances.

Here, the anti-military forces' argument is as follows: "by threatening to withhold federal funds from schools that do not accommodate military recruiters, the government was compelling them to take part in speech they did not agree with." Give me a break. It's hard to believe the Third Circuit court fell for this. No one is forcing the schools to speak -- in fact, the Soloman Amendment is just guaranteeing the speech rights of the military on American campuses. And given that the military is the institution that guarantees the "academic freedom" so frequently abused on American campuses, it would seem that the military would be entitled to a little respect.

But no. How typical of the liberals. They want it both ways -- their anti-military principles don't extend far enough for them to be willing to give up their place at the government trough.


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