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Yale Backhands the U.S. Military By: Newt Gingrich and Vince Haley
AEI.org | Monday, February 21, 2005


U.S. News and World Report puts has Yale Law School in the No. 1 spot in its ranking of academic institutions. In the affections of the American people, however, it is likely to soon rank last once people learn it has just turned its back on the United States' fighting men and women during a time of war.

Yale Law Dean Harold Hongju Koh has decided that, as of February 3, the U.S. military is banned from going to the Yale campus to recruit law students.

This is not a misprint. Three days after more than 150,000 of the United States' finest men and women helped secure a peaceful election in an Iraqi nation recovering from more than thirty years of tyranny, the United States' "No. 1" law school proudly announces that the U.S. military cannot come to Yale to find much needed support among the best and brightest legal minds for the ongoing mission of these 150,000 courageous U.S. citizens in uniform.

The very day that the soul of the nation was so moved during the State of the Union address by the tearful embrace of a grieving but proud mother of a fallen soldier and a newly free Iraqi woman, Yale Law School decided that the U.S. military doesn't measure up to its standards and needs to shove off.

Young Americans are risking their lives and dying in places like Baghdad, Fallujah, Najaf, Kirkuk and Mosul to protect us here at home. And what is the response of the United States' "No. 1" law school: Do whatever it is you do in places like Fallujah but don't come here to New Haven.

Why does Yale refuse to let the military on its campus? Its answer is that the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding homosexuals is in violation of the non-discrimination policy that it requires all employers to follow in order to recruit on campus.

But Yale has made exceptions to its anti-discrimination policy before when money was at stake; why can't it make another exception during a time of war when U.S. lives are on the line?

For the last couple years, a federal law was enforced that permitted the government to withhold federal monies from any school that barred military recruiters from campus. With $320 million of federal aid in jeopardy, Yale decided that it could make an exception to its non-discrimination policy and allow military recruiters.

On Feb. 1, a federal district judge somehow concluded that this federal law is unconstitutional (which is a very controversial matter in itself, but not the focus of this essay). No longer in fear of losing its federal subsidies, the Yale Law Dean issued a statement the very next day that the military was no longer welcome. Unlike the potential loss to Yale of $320 million, supporting our troops in time of war apparently does not merit an exception to the policy.

Given that Yale law students are supposed to be among the best and brightest, why is it that law students themselves cannot make judgments about whether to interview on campus with the military? Although the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is well known, the Yale law faculty could make it a priority that all Yale law students be specifically educated about its details but leave the final decision on interviewing with the military to them.

Yale law faculty already trusts its student to make judgments about a wide variety of viewpoints. A look at the Yale Law School event Web site shows that campus life encourages a tremendous amount of diversity. For example, in March Yale is the site for a two-day symposium entitled: "Breaking with Tradition: New Frontiers for Same-Sex Marriage."

Yale presumably is confident, as it should be, that those Yale students who do not wish to break with tradition when it comes to marriage can handle the presence on campus of those who advocate a dramatically different viewpoint. Similarly, those Yale students who support the troops in Iraq are no doubt mature enough to be able to handle the faculty workshop scheduled in early March entitled "The Occupation of Iraq."

Surely then, the presence on Yale's campus of representatives of the U.S. military, which incidentally liberated Iraq from a homicidal regime that made homosexuality an offense punishable by death, can be endured by those law students who may disagree with its policies.

Yale Law Dean Koh should immediately reconsider his decision and allow military recruiters on campus.


Newt Gingrich is a senior fellow at AEI and author of Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America. Vince Haley directs policy research for Mr. Gingrich.


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