about the recent
Supreme Court decision upholding the
Solomon Amendment, which
requires schools to put out if the government buys them dinner requires schools that receive Federal funding to allow military recruiters on campus.
The Solomon Act represents a fundamental shift in how the role of government is seen in the post-New Deal era. At least since the FDR years, government has been concerned with the general welfare. Recently, however, federal spending has been done on a business model -- "what do we get for the money?" Many editorialists take the position that the government is buying access for military recruiters. In fact, according to the Court, schools have to let military recruiters on campus even if they wouldn't allow other organizations that discriminate against uncloseted homosexuals:
The Solomon Amendment does not focus on the content of a school's recruiting policy, as the amici would have it. Instead, it looks to the result achieved by the policy and compares the "access . . . provided" military recruiters to that provided other recruiters. Applying the same policy to all recruiters is therefore insufficient to comply with the statute if it results in a greater level of access for other recruiters than for the military. Law schools must ensure that their recruiting policy operates in such a way that military recruiters are given access to students at least equal to that "provided to any other employer."
That means that the military is held to a lower standard than any other employer. The reasoning is that the government should get something for its money. Any school getting a single penny from any Federal agency or any part of the Federal government for any purpose -- including scholarship grants from the Department of Education -- is sold to the Pentagon, even if a private company with the same hiring policies would be stopped at the gate.
The Internet was developed with the help of Federal research grants. If Stamford and UC Berkeley had been required to embrace homophobia in order to receive those grants, you might not be reading these words right now. Companies that have to answer to shareholders, or privately-held companies that answer to owners focused on the bottom line, can't waste money on pure research. Since the government is not -- or should not be -- trying to turn a profit, it can. Often, it turns out the money isn't wasted at all. Private industry can ask "what do we get for the money?" but government should ask "what might we get for the money?" And the answer can be far more abstract -- e.g., an educated populace -- than in private industry. The governments duty is to look out for everyone, not just those who have something to offer.
Because ultimately, anyone could have something to offer, and ultimately, everyone is covered by the social contract.