Mason Law Professors and Students on Winning Side in Solomon Case

Posted: March 8, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The dean of Mason’s School of Law, two other law professors and seven Law School students were among those pleased with the outcome of Monday’s Supreme Court opinion on the Solomon Amendment law.

That’s because they had filed a brief that supported the armed services position. In the case, the court unanimously ruled that colleges must allow military recruiters on campus even if the institution feels that the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays is discriminatory.

The federal law in dispute, known as the Solomon Amendment, says that universities will forfeit federal money if they don’t allow recruiters on campus.

“A unanimous constitutional opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court written by the Chief Justice and uncompromised by any concurring opinion is the strongest possible American legal authority,” said Daniel Polsby, dean of the School of Law, and Professor Joseph Zengerle in a statement issued after the ruling.

They noted that the Mason contingent was “alone among the national law schools to initiate and file a brief, with other amici joining later, that supported the armed services and offered the principal rationale for the court’s decision under the Spending Clause.”

Other universities were on the other side of the case making First Amendment arguments against the Solomon Amendment, all of which were rejected.

“The Mason brief emphasized the importance of Congress’ power to maintain a strong military, especially in time of war, and did not take a position on the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ statute, a policy that ostensibly motivated the other law schools but was not a legal issue in the case,” the statement said.

The law students involved with the brief were Vince Chiappetta, Benjamin Diliberto, Michael Eaton, Robert Hall, Leland Marcus, Colin O’Dawe and Brian Sullivan. The students were all enrolled in Zengerle’s Clinic for Legal Assistance to Servicemembers. Law Professor Nelson Lund also signed the brief.

For more information, see the School of Law web site.

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