Phi Beta Cons

Please Debate Yale’s Recruiter Ban

I had forgotten that Yale Law School is still banning military recruiters as it pursues its own lawsuit against the Solomon Amendment. Yale apparently believes that its independent (and no doubt brilliant) legal arguments will overcome the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in Rumsfeld v. FAIR. While I think the Supreme Court’s decision renders Yale’s continued opposition frivolous (and bordering on a bad-faith abuse of the Court’s time and resources), that’s not the purpose of this post. Yale is holding a panel discussion on the recruiter ban, and has invited JAG representatives to state their case, but the Navy has declined and the Army is likely to decline as well:

While an injunction from 2004 continues to give Yale Law School the exclusive right to deny equal access to military recruiters without risking federal funding losses, Law School Dean Harold Koh this month extended invitations to several JAG recruiters to speak on panels at the school this Thursday and Friday.

“We are genuinely interested in hearing the position of the Armed Services as to why they are maintaining this discriminatory policy,” Koh said Monday night. “If the services want to make a case to our students that they should work for the JAG corps despite this policy, our invitation plainly offers a chance to do so.”
Though Navy JAG recruiters have already declined the invitation, Koh said he is hopeful that a member of the Army JAG will join discussion of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell on the Friday panel. While it is unlikely that the Pentagon will send a representative to defend its policies, Koh said the panels will be held regardless, as a forum for general discussion.
The talk is expected to draw radically different points of view, as some faculty and students have begun to question the merits of the Law School’s pending lawsuit, since the Supreme Court has already rejected many arguments against the Solomon Amendment. While some are calling for Yale to adopt alternative strategies to avoid alienating the government or wasting resources on a lost cause, many others – Koh in particular – are advocating solidarity in the face of a mounting legal and ideological challenge.
“[The panel] will be a good occasion to return to the core issue in the case, which is why the military chooses to exclude openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual men and women from serving their country, particularly when they have not explained what national interest that policy serves,” Koh said.”

The Army should show up for the debate. Given the horribly one-sided nature of elite education, it is likely that a JAG officer would present the first opportunity that many students have ever had to hear a defense of military service and Army history. The military has to directly engage the cultural elite to help close the widening gap between that elite and the rest of American culture. The Army has nothing to apologize for — as the force primarily responsible for American Independence, the end of slavery, the liberation of Europe from fascist tyranny, and — most recently — toppling two of the most barbaric regimes on the planet. This history (and present) is worth defending. It is also worth asking Yale to defend not only its current policy but its legacy of hostility to the service most responsible for the freedom it so self-righteously abuses.


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