COLUMN: Childish demands for grownup issue

Leslie Arntz

On Dec. 6, oral arguments will begin in the Supreme Court for the case of FAIR v. Rumsfeld. The constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment will be determined. The current law allows the Secretary of Defense to deny federal grants to universities if they prevent ROTC or military recruitment on campus. A number of law schools have a problem with allowing recruiters on campus because of the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in the military. This policy is in opposition to universities’ anti-discriminatory policies.

The aforementioned universities have opportunity to ban recruiters at any moment – but choose to sue over it instead. They want the government’s money, but not its presence.

If you attend a state school, expect the government to exert some sort of control. If you attend a private school and the government wants to offer monetary assistance, the government will expect to have some sort of control, too. If an institution can accept the funding, it must be willing to adhere to the stipulations Uncle Sam attaches to that cash. It’s a symbiotic relationship: You get a lower tuition, the U.S. government has opportunity to recruit.

Federal money is given to states that adhere to specific speed limit laws. Grants are handed out based on ethnic or gender quotas. Money plus provisos equals the inner workings of any company, institution or bureaucracy.

If someone chooses to make a stand based on his convictions, he should expect ripples. Universities and student organizations who want the military off campus should accept all of the resulting effects. If that means no federal money, then so be it.

Instead of attacking the military for the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy it practices, go to the source: Congress. Section 8 of article 1 of the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to raise and support armies and to make rules for the regulation of the forces. It came up with the policy; it can do away with it. Don’t hide hatred of the military under the banner of civil rights. Channels have been established through which changes are made. Use them.

Toppling the Solomon Amendment will not banish the law that mandates the policy everyone has a problem with in the first place. Instead it might undermine the progressive legislation such groups have worked so hard to ensure for so many years.

In the Los Angeles Times, Tobias Barrington Wolff, a law professor at UC Davis, wrote that law schools are asking for the First Amendment right to opt out of a law that has symbolic implications with which they disagree. He concludes that any organization (including corporations) could resist any law that it finds itself symbolically at odds with. Disagreement with policy does not give a right to exemption.

Laws have symbolic meanings. Affirmative Action is chock full of it. If Billy Bob thinks only whites are capable of working at his company, and the government sets minority quotas for him, is his freedom of speech being impeded?

Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric. If this case is truly about civil rights and the freedom of speech, then assail the proper party. Attack the constitutionality of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. And certainly don’t expect assistance from those you are seeking to encumber. You paint yourselves to be demanding children with hands thrust out.

Leslie Arntz is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].