Leadership & Governance

Democrats Say They'll Enforce Solomon Amendment

January 16, 2008

During last night’s Democratic debate in Nevada, the top three candidates for President promised to enforce a law that bars colleges from limiting military recruiting on campus.

Asked by moderator Tim Russert if they would “vigorously enforce” the law, known as the Solomon Amendment, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina all answered yes.

When asked in a follow-up question if the top-10 rated schools should be required to have ROTC programs on campus, Ms. Clinton hedged, saying “there are ways they can work out fulfilling that obligation.”

“They should certainly not do anything that either undermines or disrespects the young men and women who wish to pursue a military career,” she added.

The candidates also seized the opportunity to talk about other things they’d do for the military, and to take some jabs at the Bush administration.

Ms. Clinton promised a “21st-century G.I. Bill of Rights so that our young veterans can get the money to go to college and buy a home and start a business.” She criticized the Pentagon for “trying to take away the signing bonuses when a soldier gets wounded and ends up in the hospital.”

Mr. Edwards promised returning vets a “comprehensive evaluation of their medical needs,” “job training” and “additional education if they need it.”

Mr. Obama used the question as a segue to promote his plan to create a national service program that would provide participants with a $4,000 tuition credit for each year of service.

“I think that the obligation to serve exists for everyone,” he said.

The Solomon amendment, which was written into law in 1994, allows the federal government to withhold certain funds from colleges that limit military recruiting. The Supreme Court upheld the law in 2006, ruling that the law schools that brought the suit could not restrict recruiting on the grounds that the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy conflicts with their own antidiscrimination policies.