The Spending Clause Implications of Rumsfeld V. Forum for Academic and Individual Rights
October 1, 2006William E. Thro
In Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic & Institutional Rights,the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the constitutionality of the Solomon Amendment, which mandates that if any part of an institution of higher education denies military recruiters access equal to that provided other recruiters, the entire institution would lose certain federal funds. “Because Congress could require law schools to provide equal access to military recruiters without violating the schools’ freedoms of speech or association” the Solomon Amendment is consistent with the First Amendment.Indeed, the Court chastised the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights for attempting “to stretch a number of First Amendment doctrines well beyond the sort of activities these doctrines protect. . . . [T]he law schools’ effort . . .plainly overstates the expressive nature of their activity and the impact of the Solomon Amendment on it, while exaggerating the reach of our First Amendment precedents.” Yet, while Rumsfeld is significant for its discussion of the interplay between the First Amendment and the Armed Forces Clauses, its greater significance is its pronouncements about the Spending Clause.