February 07, 2005

I Always Wanted to Interview at Masa

by PG

Among the employers who signed up for on campus interviewing were the U.S. Army and Air Force Judge Advocate Generals. In the listing for students to bid for their interview slots, they had little information icons that could be clicked to say,

The U.S. Military J.A.G. employment practices are not in compliance with Columbia Law School and Columbia University policies on nondiscrimination in that they are unable to provide assurances that they observe the principles of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in employment on the grounds of sexual orientation. The U.S. Military J.A.G. is being permitted to interview at the Law School because of a U.S. Department of Defense (D.O.D.) threat, pursuant to federal legislation, to withhold all D.O.D. funding, in addition to the funding from a number of other federal agencies, provided to Columbia University if they are not provided the same access as other employers.
Despite not being a fan of the Solomon Amendment, I signed up to interview with both, but the Air Force JAG dropped out, so now I'm only going to see the Army folks. However, I might feel obligated to ask them to move from the comfy confines of Warren Hall to an off-campus locale.

An hour ago, I got an e-mail from the NYU public interest law symposium, which was another venue for summer job seekers like myself. The e-mail says,

As you know, despite not complying with our non-discrimination policy, the military will be recruiting due to restrictions of the Solomon Amendment. As part of our ameliorative efforts we are circulating the attached documents to all participating students and sharing Dean Revesz' message to the community. In addition, rainbow ribbons will be available to allow individuals to express their opposition to the military's recruitment policy. Similarly, employers will be offered non-discrimination pins to wear.

If you are attending an interview with the U.S. Air Force you should contact your Symposium School Administrator if you would like to make further arrangements.

Thank you.

Ivan Perez
Associate Director


To: The Public Interest/Public Service Symposium Participants
From: Richard Revesz
Date: February 2, 2005
Re: Military Recruiting and Discrimination Against Gay and Lesibian People

On February 10, 2005, the Air Force will participate in the Public Interest Job Fair that NYU Law School's Public Interest Law Center (PILC) hosts each year for students from twenty-one area law schools.

Military policy excludes qualified applicants who are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. We are proud that in 1978, NYU Law School became the first law school in the United States to deny its career services to employers who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, in addition to earlier policies that denied these services to employers who discriminated on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin or disability. In response to the leadership of NYU Law School's former Dean John Sexton, in 1990 the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) resolved that accredited law schools in the United States could not aid employers who discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

The anti-discrimination policies of NYU and other U.S. law schools do not target the military but apply equally to all employers. Our anti-discrimination policies reflect no disrespect for the military or its lawyers. For decades, America's top law firms and law schools have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, with the result that they are better able to fulfill their professional and educational tasks.

The federal Solomon Amendment of 1995 denies DOD funds to schools that do not allow military recruiters. In 1997, Congress expanded the Solomon Amendment to deny funding from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Transportation to schools that do not allow military recruiters. Despite the loss of $75,000 in Federal Pell Grants, NYU Law School reaffirmed our anti-discrimination principle and continued to deny access to discriminatory recruiters.

Since 2000, the DOD has reinterpreted the Solomon Amendment to extend its reach. The DOD asserts that if any part of a university denied access to military recruiters, the entire university would lose all federal funds. The DOD also asserts that it is entitled not just to "access" but to access equal to that afforded non-discriminatory employers. In November 2004 Congress affirmed the DOD's broad interpretation of its authority under the Solomon Amendment. Other parts of NYU, most notably the medical school, receive substantial federal funds -- more each year than the annual Law School budget. In the Fall of 2002, to protect these funds, the University instructed the Law School to comply with the DOD demands -- that is, to allow the military equal access to career services.

I recognize that this policy causes great pain to our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students. It is deeply offensive to the great majority of those in the NYU Law School community who believe it is irrational and immoral to discriminate against qualified people because of their sexual orientation.

Further, as lawyers, we understand that the DOD policy may be illegal under the First Amendment. In 2003, The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), a national organization of 900 law teachers, The Forum for Academic & Institutional Rights (FAIR), an organization of twenty five law schools and law school faculties, and others filed suit against Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, charging that the DOD's practices are not authorized by the federal statute and violate First Amendment rights of speech, association, and academic freedom. We are proud that NYU Law School students and faculty have led this effort and that NYU Law School was one of the first law schools to join the FAIR litigation. The Solomon Amendment remains in effect. Dozens of organizations filed amicus briefs in support of the Solomon challenge. All of the papers in this and related cases can be found at www.solomonresponse.org.

On November 29, 2004, the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals held, 2-1, that the Solomon Amendment violates law schools' First Amendment rights of expression, association, academic freedom, and the right to resist compelled speech expressing tolerance for the military's discriminatory policies. Despite this magnificent victory in the Court of Appeals, no injunction has yet been issued to protect the First Amendment rights of law schools. The government has sought a stay of the mandate, and has announced its intent to seek review in the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, February 10 from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in Vanderbilt Hall Room 204 on MacDougal and Washington Sq. So., the Placement Committee, the American Constitution Society, SQUAD and OUTLAW will present a program on these issues. Panelist will include Professors David Richards, Shara Frase, one of the lawyers from Heller Erhman representing the plaintiffs, and Kathi Wescott of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Bess Kennedy of OUTlaw will moderate. The program will be videotaped and available on the NYU web site so that students who have class conflicts at that time will be able to attend class without missing the event.

I will continue to work with all student groups, including SQUAD and OUTLaw, and with faculty and administrators, to discuss constructive measures that the Law School can take in support of its nondiscrimination policy, and in opposition to the military's policy.

On those dates when military recruiters are on campus, the Law School will offer members of the community a means to express disapproval of the military's policy. Ribbons will be available at the Guards' Desks in Vanderbilt and in Furman Hall for those who would like to wear them to affirm opposition to discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

As NYU Law School recognized in 1978, a society that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, or that tolerates such discrimination against qualified people, is not just. I look forward to the day when the Armed Forces, like other employers who recruit at the Law School, adhere to principles of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination.

The e-mail included two attachments, one a bill from NYU's Student Bar Association (Download file) and the other a letter from a coalition of campus groups (Download file), both of which requested that all students interested in working for the JAG Corps voluntarily interview at off-campus locations.

Hence the need to be interviewed at Masa. And where's my rainbow ribbon? I might have to settle for wearing the scarf.

February 7, 2005 10:18 PM | TrackBack

I would stand up to your school's ingratitude for federal funding and its misguided attempt to force political correctness on the military.

It's one thing if NYU doesn't want to associate with a bunch of old white lawyers don't want gay people doing their document review.

It's quite another to second-guess the decision of the military that its troops would function a lot better, and our country would be better defended if soldiers could spend extended amounts of time together on the battlefield, in submarines, and camped out in the middle of nowhere without worrying if the guy next to them wants to pound 'em in the ass.

The administrators of your law school simply hate the military and think that it's a great academic game to impose their ivory tower principles on whoever comes through their crosshairs. Once they win this, they'll move on to trying to cram the ADA down the military's throats and get quadriplegics into the Navy SEALs. Because after all, a society that discriminates against people on the basis of physical disability is not just.

Posted by: T-Money at February 8, 2005 02:42 AM

I love how law schools stand on principle when it comes to this issue. Oh, the irony.

If law schools *truly* wanted to stand on principle, they would kick the military off campus and express what they want to express -- and then suffer the consequences (i.e. denial of federal funding) for that opinion. Great men like Gandhi and King have paid the price for their speech, and in doing so, have inspired nations. Why can't law schools follow that example?

And I especially love the irony of an elite law school telling the U.S. military that it is not diverse enough. Have you ever looked at the faculty or student populations of a typical elite law school? Have you ever seen a less diverse group of people? Compare the average entering class of NYU or Yale or Stanford or Columbia to any given military unit, and I think you'll see who knows more about diversity. For what it's worth, President Truman desegregated the U.S. military long before many law schools opened their doors to minorities. America's elite law schools still lag behind the military when it comes to diversity.

And that doesn't even begin to touch the subject of intellectual diversity -- something which most elite law schools lack, as seen by the utter lack of any counterpoint in the above communications regarding the Solomon Amendment from the Columbia University Law School.

Posted by: Veteran at February 8, 2005 09:29 PM

The law schools know that "don't ask, don't tell" is alive and well at the law firms that make up the bulk of their recruiting, particularly in the senior levels and the largest firms. The fact that they attack military recruitment with such theatrical piety, while letting the firms off with a largely empty pledge, suggests that gay rights aren't their real concern.

Moreover, the law firms generally still have a lousy record on the advancement of women and racial minorities. It is ironic, as Veteran alludes, that the law schools are seeking to deny their students access to recruitment at a set of employers that has been among the most successful in fostering career advancement for those groups.

Posted by: Tom T. at February 9, 2005 07:37 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Sitting in Review
Armen (e-mail) #
PG (e-mail) #
Craig Konnoth (e-mail) #
About Us
Senior Status