District court ratifies administration’s preemptive surrender on Solomon Amendment

I wrote here and here about the Defense Department’s unwillingness to enforce the Solomon Amendment at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) which, for three years, has allowed near riots by professors and students to drive military recruiters from its job fairs, while non-military recruiters have enjoyed an unimpeded opportunity to meet with students interested in employment. I also noted that, in a suit prosecuted by the Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), the Young America’s Foundation has challenged the Defense Department’s surrender to UCSC and its anti-military radicals.

Now, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has granted the Defense Department’s motion to dismiss this lawsuit. The court concluded that DOD has total discretion as to when, if ever, to enforce the Solomon Amendment. It also found that YAF lacks standing because its injury (the inability of its members to visit with recruiters at UCSC), was not the fault of DOD (for failing to insist on the presence of recruiters on campus) or of UCSC (for not disciplining students and faculty members who drove recruiters from campus). The court concluded instead that the harm was caused the students and professors — third parties who were not named as defendants. The court also thought it was pure conjecture to suppose that UCSC, deprived of $80 million in federal funds, would change its conduct and bring the students and faculty in line with the UCSC’s purported policy of allowing recruiters on campus. The fact that such “conjecture” lies at the core of Congress’ thinking in passing the Solomon Amendment appears to have counted for nothing.

The real fault here lies not with the court (whose core holdings may be defensible in light of the applicable precedents), but with the Bush administration. It has handed left-wing colleges and universities a free pass to circumvent the Solomon Amendment. These institutions can adopt a formal policy in favor of recruiters but stand idly by as students and faculty members drive recruiters off the campus. This was not a case in which the college attempted unsuccessfully to curb the riotous behavior of its students and faculty members, and it is clear that the Bush administration is indifferent as to whether college’s make such efforts. In fact, students who lost the opportunity to meet with military recruiters at UCSC never even received a response to a letter they wrote to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld reporting this. Given its indifference, one wonders why the administration went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to confirm the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment.

Here is yet another instance of preemptive surrender by this burned-out, largely ineffectual administration.

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