Dean's Letter Regarding Military Recruiting on Campus
Over the next few weeks, the U.S. military will conduct interviews at the Law School. As you know, Columbia has a long-standing nondiscrimination policy, under which employers who use Law School facilities in recruiting are asked to pledge that they will not discriminate based on numerous factors, including race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation.
The military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” statute cuts against our strongly held conviction that employer hiring should be solely based on merit, and without regard to factors including race, sex, religion, and sexual orientation. The U.S. military is being permitted to interview at the Law School pursuant to federal legislation known as the Solomon Amendment. Under that legislation, a law school’s refusal to permit the military equal access to recruit on campus can result in the withholding of a wide range of federal funding to an entire university.
As a community, we are mindful of the military’s status as an institution that protects the nation. We admire the courage and self-sacrifice of our troops and appreciate the particular contributions of military lawyers in an age when national security and personal liberty must be balanced in difficult new contexts. We believe strongly that those of our students who choose careers in the military can offer invaluable service to the nation. This very certitude renders it even more troubling that our gay, lesbian, and bisexual students are discouraged from doing so, due to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" statute.
I encourage you, as future advocates, to participate in a robust, vibrant, public conversation around the issues raised by military recruiting. It is the role of a great law school—including both its students and faculty—to explore contemporary legal issues in an open, collegial, and thoughtful way. We urge you to examine this issue through the various ameliorative programs at the Law School and the greater university during the course of the semester and in conversations with your peers, professors, and administrators.
Dean David Schizer
Dean and Lucy G. Moses
Professor of Law
Columbia Law School
Faculty Letter Regarding Military Recruitment
The U.S. armed forces have returned to our campus for law student recruitment. The military's on-campus recruitment directly violates the Law School's longstanding policy forbidding employers from recruiting on campus if they discriminate based on, inter alia, sexual orientation. In response, the faculty members listed below have issued the following letter:
We, the undersigned members of the faculty of Columbia Law School, remain strongly opposed to the federal law known as the Solomon Amendment. Through punitive financial coercion, this law requires the Law School to allow representatives of the United States armed services to engage in discriminatory recruitment on our campus through the Law School’s Career Services office. This recruitment directly violates the Law School’s longstanding nondiscrimination policy, which forbids employers from recruiting on our campus if they discriminate based on, inter alia, sexual orientation. Under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, which bars openly lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals from military service, military employers discriminate explicitly based on sexual orientation.
In March 2006, in Fair v. Rumsfeld, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Solomon Amendment against a challenge based on the First Amendment rights to speech and association. The Court held that law schools could be required to permit military recruiters access to campus, notwithstanding the schools’ nondiscrimination policies. However, Chief Justice Roberts, speaking for a unanimous Court, also made clear that “[s]tudents and faculty are free to associate to voice their disapproval of the military’s message.”
Gratified by Congress's recent action recognizing that eligibility for military service should not depend on sexual orientation, we look forward to implementation of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s repeal following presidential certification. Accordingly, we reaffirm our commitment to an educational environment at the Law School that is free from discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, and handicap or disability.
The undersigned faculty members recognize with regret the harms to which our lesbian, gay, and bisexual students may be subject as a result of the military recruiters’ presence on campus in violation of our non-discrimination policy.
The undersigned faculty members further regret the harm to the United States and to the rule of law occasioned by a federal law that excludes highly qualified lawyers from serving in the United States armed forces.
George A. Bermann
Barbara Aronstein Black
Elizabeth F. Emens
Robert A. Ferguson
Merritt B. Fox
Richard N. Gardner
Alejandro M. Garro
Conrad A. Johnson
Avery W. Katz
Jody Kraus (Visiting)
Carol B. Liebman
Horatia Muir Watt (Visiting)
Barbara A. Schatz
Robert E. Scott
Michael I. Sovern
Peter L. Strauss