Congress Supports Solomon Ruling

House votes 347–65 to uphold Supreme Court ruling on military recruiting

Two-thirds of House Democrats yesterday joined the unanimous Republican caucus in supporting the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Solomon Amendment. The court handed down its unanimous opinion last Monday.

The Solomon Amendment, a federal law enacted in 1994 and revised several times in the past twelve years, compels universities to allow military recruiters on their campuses or risk forgoing federal funds. For the last two years, universities have challenged the amendment on both constitutional and statutory grounds, and Harvard has lobbied against its most recent revision. But the most recent ruling dismissed the legal challenges to the law.

Nine of the ten congressmen who compose the Massachusetts House delegation voted against the resolution, which passed 347-65. Among those voting “no” were Rep. Michael E. Capuano, Cambridge’s congressman, Rep. Barney Frank ’61, one of the nation’s most prominent openly gay politicians, and Rep. Martin T. Meehan, the chief sponsor of legislation to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Frank pushed through a change to the law in 1999, removing financial aid funds from the money affected by the Solomon Amendment.

The House resolution emphasized the need to protect “national security interests” and identified universities as an important source of recruits.

The resolution also restated the Solomon Amendment’s requirement that universities accepting federal funds must provide military recruiters access that is “at least equal in quality and scope to that which is provided to any other employer.”

When asked about his vote against the resolution, Capuano’s spokeswoman told The Crimson that colleges should not be forced to condone the Pentagon’s policy of prohibiting openly gay and lesbian individuals from serving in the armed forces.

“The issue for me is one of discrimination,” Capuano said through his spokeswoman. “If colleges do not want recruiters on campus because of a disagreement with the military’s ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, then government should not force them to set aside their own anti-discrimination rules.”

Though Frank and Meehan declined to comment specifically on the resolution, Meehan’s office released a general statement about the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I support the colleges and universities around the country who had the courage to challenge the U.S. government over this unjust policy,” Meehan said. “Ultimately, Congress must act to overturn the military’s outdated ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, which is as ineffective as it is un-American.”

—Staff writer Paras D, Bhayani can be reached at pbhayani@fas.harvard.edu.