The founder of a group that is suing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called on Law School students and faculty yesterday to join the “current civil rights battle” by protesting military recruitment policies that he said violate college nondiscrimination clauses.

The military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy – which discourages military members from discussing their sexuality – conflicts with law school non-discrimination statements, said Boston College law Prof. Kent Greenfield. These statements in almost every case protect students from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, said Greenfield, who is the founder of the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights.

But colleges are required to allow military recruiters onto their campuses or lose federal financial aid provided by the Department of Defense, according to the Solomon Amendment passed by Congress in 1995, Greenfield said at the Law School yesterday.

“The enforcement of the Solomon Amendment forces the Law School to compromise its principled commitment to equality and non-discrimination,” Law School student Madeleine Findley said.

Findley is a member of Outlaws, a student group that sponsored the presentation.

Greenfield said he created FAIR with the help of some of his law students to sue Rumsfeld after the Department of Defense sent letters to law schools across the country threatening to revoke federal funding.

“The Defense Department were acting like thugs,” Greenfield said. “They wanted special treatment. They wanted to come on our campus and only hire straight people.”

All other recruiters that come to law schools are required to abide by the schools’ nondiscrimination policies, he said.

“You can’t condition government benefits on whether the recipient agrees with the government, and that’s what the Solomon Amendment does,” he said.

He added that some schools that have joined FAIR in the lawsuit have received between $100 and $300 million in funding from the Department of Defense.

The only schools that have publicly announced their support for the lawsuit, which was filed five weeks ago, are New York University, George Washington University and Golden Gate University, he said.

The Department of Justice, which usually handles such lawsuits, filed a brief defending the Solomon Amendment and the military’s recruitment policies.

The brief states that federal aid programs are unconstitutional only when their conditions prohibit recipients from engaging in constitutionally protected conduct outside of the program’s scope.

“The provision at issue has nothing to do with the protected conduct, speech, that the plaintiffs’ claim is infringed upon,” the brief states.

“(The Solomon Amendment) does not prohibit the recipients from engaging in any protected conduct – they are free to speak as they please. They are only prohibited from discriminating against the military from gaining access to campuses in their recruitment activities.”

Greenfield said since the Department of Defense began threatening to take away their funding, law schools have been “caving in ways we would never teach our students to do.”

Greenfield said “it would be incredibly powerful” if the University Law School or its faculty joined FAIR in the lawsuit.

He asked University students to encourage Law School faculty and administrators to support the suit.

Many schools and the American Association of Law Schools have declined to participate in the lawsuit because they fear government retaliation, he said.

“The more numbers we get, the harder it will be for AALS to be a non-participant” in the suit, he said. “Now everybody’s scared of retaliation, but in a year everybody will be saying, ‘My, what were we thinking?’ “

After Greenfield concluded his speech, a Law School professor announced that he would support the initiative.

Law School student and Outlaws member Pierce Beckham said Outlaws has been meeting with Law School faculty and administrators.

“Faculty members at the Law School tend to be very supportive of LGBT issues,” he said.

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