Supreme Court Backs Military Recuriters

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Yesterday the Supreme Court ruled that universities must open their doors to military recruiters if they want to continue receiving federal funds, even if those universities oppose the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Many university law schools had claimed that being forced to associate with the recruiters was an infringement of their free speech rights. But in his unanimous opinion Justice John Roberts countered this argument, citing the federal law that requires universities to accept recruiters in order to receive funding:

The Solomon Amendment regulates conduct, not speech. It affects what law schools must do — afford equal access to military recruiters — not what they may or may not say…. [It] neither limits what the law schools may say nor requires them to say anything.

The opinion also considered campus visits a good recruiting tool. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor added that, in any case, the presence of recruiters does not prevent schools from actively voicing their opposition to military policies. (The federal law is more contentious among many university law schools, because they require recruiters to sign pledges saying that they will not discriminate based on sex, race, gender, or other factors.)

Stephen Bainbridge, a law professor at UCLA, explains that the key issue here is the “unconstitutional conditions doctrine.” As Justice Roberts explained, “The Solomon Amendment would be unconstitutional if Congress could not directly require universities to provide military recruiters equal access to their students.” Congress isn’t forcing campuses to welcome military recruiting—universities can always ban recruiters if they’re willing to forego federal funding.

But that’s often easier said than done. Universities receive $35 billion from the federal government each year, with a good chunk of that money going towards medical and scientific research. Academia is not equipped to make up the difference if that funding is pulled, which means that the federal government will continue to have significant leeway in directing what universities can and can’t do.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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