Solomon's Wisdom

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 7 2006 5:18 PM

Solomon's Wisdom

Bloggers are dissecting the Supreme Court's decision forcing colleges to allow military recruiters on campus. They're also questioning South Dakota's new abortion ban and mourning baseball great Kirby Puckett.

Solomon's wisdom: By unanimous decision Monday, the Supreme Court upheld the Solomon Amendment requiring colleges and universities to give military recruiters the same access as other job recruiters. A coalition of law schools (the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights) had sued the government, objecting to the Pentagon's ban against openly gay people serving in the military. The Justice Roberts-penned opinion went so far as to suggest that even colleges that don't receive federal funding could be forced to comply.

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Numerous law schools filed briefs on the eventual losing side, but George Mason argued for the military. And the conservative blog Power Line scored a comment from its dean.

"This is really a stinging rebuke, not only to FAIR but to an entire industry that has become complacent and self-indulgent," said Daniel Polsby of the George Mason University Law School. "Many law professors really do believe ... that their own strongly-held policy preferences are all encoded somehow in the Constitution. This is a timely reminder that it just isn't so."

The heart of the verdict, as blogger/UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge explains, is that the Solomon Amendment is constitutional since Congress could have required colleges to offer recruiters access even without the threat of pulling federal funding. Even liberal Political Animal Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly concedes this point: "That makes sense to me, although I'm a little surprised to learn that Congress could indeed have simply mandated access to military recruiters if it wanted to. Under that doctrine, could newspapers be required to accept advertising for military recruitment even if they didn't want to?"

The decision also provides another window into the mind of the new chief justice. Harvard law professor David Barron at Law Culture "was struck by the fact that the opinion cities solely to prior supreme court opinions, statutes, and regulations. No references to law review literature, treaties, casebooks, or anything else not written by one of the three branches themselves."

Law professory Ann Althouse—who foresaw the outcomepraises Roberts' prose. "There is no blather or hedging. ... He has obviously taken great pains to put every sentence in plain English. He deals with all the precedents, handling most of the cases in one or two crisp sentences. You may not appreciate how beautiful this thinking and writing is, but I do, and I think generations of law students will."

Read more about the decision. For a hard-core legal analysis, replete with reader feedback, check outSCOTUSblog. The Volokh Conspiracy has several reactions to the verdict, as does TaxProf Blog.

Abortion contortion? South Dakota Gov. Michael Rounds signed into law a state abortion ban Monday. The ban, which is scheduled to take effect in July, is broad—its only exception is when the pregnant woman's life is in danger—and is expected to be challenged. "(F)or those individuals who believe that abortion is wrong, this is one way we can challenge the concepts and the precepts found in Roe v. Wade," Rounds said.

Given the lack of a rape or incest exception, even many pro-lifers are unsure this is a good idea. Neither is InstaPundit. "I'm pretty sure that this development will actually be bad for the Republicans," Glenn Reynolds writes. "When the topic is defense, the Democrats lose. When it's sex, the Republicans lose. And the abortion debate will, I think, turn into a sex debate before it's over."

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