Scott Tibbs
blog post
May 6th, 2005

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"With government money comes government strings"

The May 3 New York Times brings us a story regarding law schools demanding the "right" to exclude military recruiters in protest of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy implemented during the Clinton Administration.

Here is the problem with law schools that wish to exclude military recruiters: "With government money comes government strings." While these law schools want to exclude recruiters, they are more than happy to accept government money. Do they really think that the federal government would give them grants without expecting anything in return?

It is perfectly reasonable for the federal government to require that military recruiters have access to colleges, universities or law schools that take government money. If an institution of higher learning believes the government's policy on homosexuals in the military is "bigoted", they are free to refuse government money.

But some Leftists don't see it that way. They claim it is "unconstitutional" to withhold federal money from schools that do not give access to military recruiters. They are wrong. There is no free speech or freedom of association issue here. The federal government is simply attaching conditions to the awarding of federal money.

No organization or individual has a "right" to money confiscated from taxpayers. It's just that simple.

Update: May 06, 2005

More thoughts on government money & strings

I hope that if my post above does anything, it convinces wavering conservatives to have some serious second thoughts about government-issued vouchers for independent schools and the President's plan to give government money to faith-based charities.

When you accept money from the government, you must realize that you cannot expect the government won't want something in return. As the cliché goes, "there is no free lunch." Today, it might be some graduation standards, but tomorrow it might be a demand that there is no Bible class or chapel services to protect the mythical "wall of separation between church and state". Just ask the private charities here in Bloomington, Indiana who now must pay their employees a "living wage" if government money comes with government strings.

If supporters of Christian schools vouchers or faith-based charities want to make sure those schools and charities have the resources they need, they should open their checkbooks. They could also establish a 501(c)3 charitable organization to funnel donations to Christian schools and/or give tuition assistance to families who cannot afford a Christian education. Relying on the government for funding does not liberate you to do more. It makes you a slave to the whims of elected officials and public opinion.

As to the law schools' complaint: if you are so concerned about your freedom of association "rights" being violated, do not accept government money. In a time of war, should we expect the federal government to blindly fund schools that refuse to allow the military to recruit military lawyers? This is a national security interest.

No one would expect that a private business would continue to donate to a university or law school that denies that business the ability to recruit students. Why, then, do we expect the same out of the federal government? If a law school wishes to deny military recruiters access to campus, I fully support their right to do so. They should not, however, expect to be financially rewarded for taking that position.