PFAWF Urges Supreme Court to Uphold Universities' Right to Oppose Discrimination

Joins Civil Rights Organizations, LGBT Groups in Filing Amicus Brief in Rumsfeld v. FAIR, Being Argued Before the Supreme Court Today

WASHINGTON—People For the American Way Foundation called on the Supreme Court today to allow colleges and universities to continue to be able to exercise their free speech right to oppose discrimination.

At issue is Congress’ attempt to mandate, via the Solomon Amendment, the military’s access to college and university campuses for recruitment purposes. Many colleges and universities will not extend to employers the privilege of using school facilities for the purposes of recruiting students for employment unless they certify that they do not engage in employment discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and other factors.

Under the policy known as “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the military discriminates against gay men and lesbians based on sexual orientation, and has therefore been denied permission to recruit at a number of colleges and universities that maintain anti-discrimination rules in order to protect their students. Through the Solomon Amendment, Congress has sought to require these schools to allow recruitment by the military, or else lose all of their federal funding, In Rumsfeld v. FAIR, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that the Solomon Amendment is unconstitutional, and People For the American Way Foundation has urged the Supreme Court to affirm that ruling.

“The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy is clearly discriminatory,” People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas said. “Colleges and universities have every right not to associate themselves with that message of discrimination and not to assist employers who discriminate.”

People For the American Way Foundation has joined a friend-of-the-court brief written by the ACLU and filed in Rumsfeld v. Fair, which is being argued before the Supreme Court today. In the brief, People For the American Way Foundation, the ACLU, and other amici argue that as both a form of compelled speech and a form of viewpoint discrimination, the Solomon Amendment constitutes an unconstitutional condition in violation of the schools’ right to free expression.

The amici curiae filing the brief along with the ACLU and People For the American Way Foundation include Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

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