The Higher Education Civil Rights Subterfuge

Even back in the 90s, when the universe meant something, there was a conflict between the JAG corps recruiting on-campus at law schools and the don’t ask-don’t tell policy of the military. Today, the Supreme Court will hear the case of Rumsfeld v. Forum For Academic And Individual Rights, the latest cock measuring contest between “liberal” academia and the conservative government. This means, I should remind you, that this is deemed to be among the top 100 or so of the hundreds of thousands or so disputes this year. I think it is a sickening red herring, like so many cases involving civil rights in schools. It is a red herring because it does not deal with the real issue, yet it is billed so big as if it does.

The same can be said of the recent affirmative action cases. They neither resolved racial tension in this country nor did they fix the education system. No matter what the outcome of Grutter v. Bollinger was, there would be no salvation for African-Americans or any other economically disadvantaged group. My catch phrase has been for years “until there is equality in kindergarten, there will never be equality in the university.” Grutter was primarily a dispute about which kids get into elite colleges and law schools, not about whether there is enough college available for all who want to go, or whether there are enough qualified elementary school teachers (at the age where a difference can be made). Even if you are left out of the University of Michigan, chances are your fallback school is not a truck driving academy; likewise, if you are left out of the University of Michigan law school (a top tier school), chances are you will still make it to the bar exam.

The same problem exists in this case. This is a spat between military recruiters, who last time I checked had no problem getting JAG recruits, and law schools, who haven’t done much else to cure the plight of gays. This is not a case about a discriminitory termination of a gay man at a minimum wage job, or whether or not anal sex can be criminalized, or whether civil unions are ok. It’s really another shot at “liberal academia” by the conservative government.

And they’re probably right. The federal government has broad powers to give or withhold funds (its tax and spend power has few practical limits, where its geneal powers to pass laws have limits made stronger to a point under the Rehnquist court [that point being until it involves medical marijuana]). There is no reason why the government can’t discriminate where it sends money. It does it all the time. In fact, see where the pork is going with a Republican Congress. It ain’t going to black districts, I’ll put it that way.

In sum, it doesn’t matter whether the JAG recruits at law schools. It can be left to the individual to determine whether they want to be part of an organization that discriminates, or to the law school to see how well it can do without public money (my law school was 98% privately funded). Either way, win or lose, gay rights in general, and the military’s policy towards them won’t change. What a waste of political capital, energy, and ink.