Recruiting Requirement Overturned

Court Ruling | For years Penn Law hasn’t been able to fully enforce its own policy barring discrimination against gays and lesbians. David Rudovsky, a civil-rights attorney and senior fellow at the law school, hopes a recent court ruling will change this.

In November the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit decided that colleges that deny access to military recruiters—on the grounds that openly gay men and women aren’t permitted to serve in the armed forces—can’t be penalized with the loss of federal funds.

“If the appeals court’s decision is affirmed by the Supreme Court,” Rudovsky says, “law schools will be free to make their own decisions in this area.”

The lawsuit, brought by the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights (FAIR)—an association of law schools and law professors—was one of three cases challenging the 10-year-old Solomon Amendment, which links federal funds for universities with military-recruitment access.

Rudovsky had filed another suit on behalf of individual Penn Law students and faculty, and a third suit was filed on behalf of faculty and students at Yale’s law school.

“All three cases make the constitutional claim that the Court of Appeals just decided,” he says. “A law school has a right as an association to express certain values and ideas, and the Solomon Amendment infringes on that right.”

The stakes are high, adds Rudovsky, pointing out that hundreds of millions of dollars in research funds and loans that Penn receives from the federal government were tied to the Solomon Amendment’s restrictions.

Previously, Penn Law complied with the amendment by allowing military recruiters to interview its students elsewhere on campus. “For some reason two years ago, they said that’s not enough for us” and that the law school’s career-placement office would have to set up these interviews, Rudovsky says.

Last fall Congress expanded the Solomon Amendment to require “equal” access to military and non-military recruiters.—S.F.

©2005 The Pennsylvania Gazette
Last modified 01/05/05

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