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The U.S. Supreme Court on March 6 unanimously upheld the Solomon Amendment, requiring a university receiving federal funding to give military recruiters the same access to campus and students as nonmilitary recruiters. Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, No. 04-1152. The Solomon Amendment was passed in 1994 in response to university law schools banning military recruiters because, they claimed, the military’s policy toward gays violated their nondiscrimination policies. An association of 36 law schools and law faculties sued Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, claiming that the amendment violated their First Amendment free speech and association rights. The 3d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Solomon Amendment. The justices reversed. Writing on behalf of the court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that the Solomon Amendment doesn’t require law schools unconstitutionally to accommodate the military’s message. The schools are not speaking when they host interviews and recruiting receptions; they are assisting their students to obtain jobs. Nothing about recruiting suggests that law schools have to agree with any speech by recruiters, and nothing in the Solomon Amendment restricts what they may say about the military’s policies. The amendment also does not violate the law schools’ freedom of expressive association. Unlike Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, 530 U.S. 640, which involved violation of the Boy Scouts’ freedom of expressive association by a state law that required it to accept a homosexual scoutmaster, the amendment does not force a law school “to accept members it does not desire.” Military recruiters don’t seek to become members of the school’s expressive association. So the amendment doesn’t affect a law school’s associational rights. Students and faculty are free to associate to voice their disapproval of the military’s message; the statute doesn’t affect the composition of the group by making membership less desirable. CIVIL RIGHTS The justices granted certiorari to two cases, consolidated on appeal, dealing with the right of prisoners to file civil rights suits to contest prison conditions. In two unpublished opinions in June 2005, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Prison Litigation Reform Act required a prisoner challenging the conditions of his confinement through a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit to demonstrate first that he has exhausted all of his administrative remedies. Adopting a “total exhaustion” requirement, the 6th Circuit held that the exhaustion requirement applied to each individual defendant and claim, and that the entire suit must be dismissed if there is failure to exhaust remedies on just one of several claims. Jones v. Bock, No. 05-7058, consolidated with Williams v. Overton, No. 05-7142.

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