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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at [go to Liebau index]

The “Crimson” Letter
Harvard Law School’s Badge of Shame...
[Carol Platt Liebau] 12/13/04

Harvard Law School has always been in the vanguard. It is America’s oldest law school; it pioneered the case method of teaching law, and was the first to adopt a loan forgiveness program for those who enter the public interest field. Once again last week, the law school made news for being in the vanguard. But this time, it is in a way that is unworthy of its venerable heritage.

After a ruling from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Pennsylvania, Harvard became the first school to reinstate a ban on military recruitment on campus. Until this ruling, the law school had been required to allow on-campus recruiting because of the Solomon Amendment, a law that made Harvard’s federal funding dependent on its allowing access to the military. The Amendment was passed in 1994 because Harvard, like many other “elite” universities, had determined that the military’s “don’t ask / don’t tell” policy on homosexuals in the military (signed into law by Democrat Bill Clinton) constituted a violation of the school’s non-discrimination policy.

The Third Circuit (which doesn’t cover Massachusetts, by the way) held that the Amendment infringed on the law schools’ free speech rights by, in effect, forcing them to articulate an opinion (the military’s) contrary to their own. Of course, the argument is specious. Allowing military recruitment on campus doesn’t constitute an endorsement by Harvard of the military or its views, any more than allowing Mark Geragos to recruit on campus means that Harvard believes that Scott Peterson or Michael Jackson is innocent. In fact, the Solomon Amendment doesn’t force Harvard to speak at all – it only mandates that Harvard must itself tolerate military speech on its oh-so-tolerant, oh-so-diverse campus.

Nor, contrary to what the Third Circuit held, is this a case where withholding federal funds would constitute an “unconstitutional condition.” After all, the Solomon Amendment didn’t force any university to admit or to agree with military recruiters; it simply declined to shower taxpayer money on those that decided to exclude them. Now, however, Harvard gets to have it both ways – it can treat the guarantors of America’s freedom as second class citizens, even as it continues to feast at the government trough.

Harvard’s reaction to the Third Circuit holding sums up better than anything, perhaps, the state of liberalism in America today. No one can deny that Harvard has the right to expel the military from its campus – but then it should be willing to accept the consequences, namely, the denial of federal funds. Rather than being honorable and consistent, however, Harvard was never willing to “pay for its principles” by declining the federal money when it was conditioned on military access. Apparently, Harvard will only demonstrate its moral commitment to gay rights when it won’t cost anything to do so. It’s moral vanity on the cheap.

It’s also short-sighted. As our soldiers battle Islamofascism across the world, exactly whom are they protecting? All of us, of course – but no one more than the preening professoriate, many of whose members articulate far-out views that would result in prompt imprisonment or death in a world governed by our enemies.

And liberals like the ones who dominate the Harvard Law School faculty have embraced the canard that America’s military burden is disproportionately borne by minorities and the economically disadvantaged. How, then, can they justify denying the military access to those they proclaim to be “the best and the brightest” – the supposedly intellectual elite? How, exactly, is the military supposed to address the alleged inequality if they can’t even get a hearing on America’s most selective university campuses?

There can be only one conclusion: Support for the liberal cause du jour –gay rights – has trumped both concern for the defense of America and commitment to the liberal critique of the military’s alleged racial and socioeconomic imbalance. With the United States waging a global struggle against an Islamic terrorism notoriously intolerant of homosexuals, it would seem that Harvard’s perception of the hierarchy of threats here is, to put it charitably, skewed.

As a Harvard Law School graduate and a proud American, I am ashamed. John Harvard would be, too. tOR

Columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and editorial director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at

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