(Washington, DC) The Supreme Court yesterday upheld legislation that would withhold federal funds from institutions of higher education that bar military recruiters from campuses.
Opponents based their case upon the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military.
By an 8-0 vote, the justices said that by demanding that military recruiters get the same access to college students that employers get, Congress was neither preventing universities from protesting the policy on gays nor asking the schools to endorse it.
In my opinion this was largely a legal smokescreen to find a legal way to ban recruiters. While the military's policy toward gays is indeed discriminatory, the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was merely the latest tactic in a long battle to create campuses without any military presence.
While I respect the pacifist beliefs behind the appeals, I think the motion was doomed from the start. Congress controls the federal purse strings, and this issue is too laden with danger for politicians; few Washington pols would support a measure that might make them be seen as "soft on terror" or "anti-military," especially in the post-9/11 era.
I think the focus should be on making sure recruiters abide by the same rules as other prospective employers. Recruiters get a negative reputation not so much because of the horrors of war as they do from the questionable tactics used by a few over-zealous members.
If they are sitting at a table and conducting themselves in a professional manner, I have no problem with recruiters on a college campus.
Most of us, however, know someone who has been hounded by a recruiter. One of my sons filled out a few interest cards in his high school, and our phone rang almost daily with calls from excited military salespeople. They showed up at the door, pestered him at school, and promised him all sorts of rosy scenarios to try and convince him to join.
He came home convinced that he would never set foot in a war zone, and that he would be able to "gain skills that future employers want."
When the kid turns 18, he can make his own choices, but we had to have a heart-to-heart talk about what it means to sign those papers. When he is on a flight to Baghdad as an infantryman, no one is going to want to hear about how the recruiter fibbed.