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Copyright 2005 The Hartford Courant Company
Hartford Courant (Connecticut)
March 26, 2005 Saturday
5 NORTHWEST CONNECTICUT/SPORTS FINAL EDITION
SECTION: MAIN; Pg. A1
LENGTH: 823 words
HEADLINE: U.S. JURIST BARS YALE STUDENTS AS LAW CLERKS;
RESTRICTIONS ON MILITARY ANGER A '52 ALUMNUS
BYLINE: WILLIAM WEIR; Courant Staff Writer
DATELINE: NEW HAVEN --
Upset that Yale Law School bars military recruiters from interviewing job candidates, a federal judge in Alabama has announced he will no longer consider any Yale Law students for clerkships.
William M. Acker Jr., a senior judge with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham, wrote a letter last month to Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh to inform him that he would not accept any applications from the law school.
``Please consider this an act of loyalty to YLS,'' wrote Acker, a 1952 graduate of Yale Law School.
Acker's decision is a protest against the law school's policy of limiting military recruiters' access to students. Officials of the law school say the military's ``don't ask, don't tell'' policy against gays violates the school's anti-discrimination regulations. In 1978, it became one of the first law schools in the country to include gays in its non-discrimination policy.
Koh said Acker is the only judge he knows of who has taken that kind of action against the law school. After Acker's decision became known, Koh said, the law school received a substantial amount of mail in support of the school and its anti-discrimination policy.
While military recruiters are not barred from the campus, they are not included in the law school's job interview program. The school's policy was unchallenged for years, even after the 1995 passing of the Solomon Amendment that allows the Pentagon to cut funding to schools that prohibit or prevent military recruiters' access to students.
It wasn't until shortly after 9/11 that Pentagon officials informed the law school that continuing to shut the military out of its interview program would jeopardize $320 million in federal aid to the school.
Yale then gave full access to military recruiters, but only temporarily. In 2003, law school professors at Yale filed a lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, claiming a violation of free speech. On Jan. 31, U.S. District Judge Janet Hall in New Haven ruled the Solomon Amendment unconstitutional and issued an injunction preventing the government from penalizing Yale for its policy.
In a separate case, New York University Law School and other schools filed a class-action lawsuit against the government on similar grounds. The U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled the Solomon Amendment unconstitutional. The Justice Department is seeking permission to argue its case before the U.S. Supreme Court.
In his letter, Acker said he will continue to refuse Yale law students for clerkships ``until YLS changes its mind,'' or until the courts rule the Solomon Act to be constitutional and enforceable by the government. He also wrote that he is ``exercising the same freedom of speech'' that Hall protected for the Yale Law School faculty.
``Some of my very best law clerks have been from the law school from which I proudly graduated,'' Acker wrote in the letter. ``I thereby recognize that this publicly announced decision will hurt me more than the allowing of military recruiters would hurt YLS.''
A clerk in Acker's office said the judge is not commenting on the letter.
Acker, 77, is a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1947. He was nominated to the federal bench by President Reagan in 1982.
Koh said he didn't want to speak extensively about Acker's letter because he didn't want to give it more importance than it warranted.
``I regret that one of our judicial alumni is not permitting our students to work with and gain the benefits of his view,'' he said. ``I hope he will reconsider.''
Yale law student Michael Gottlieb has been more outspoken. He responded with an open letter to Acker in which he states that he's proud of the school's faculty for taking a stand.
``My professors believe that their African American students will make excellent attorneys,'' he wrote in the letter, which was recently published in the Yale Daily News. ``They believe that their Asian students will make equally good attorneys. As will their female students. And their Muslim students. And their gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. And they are not willing to cede this point.''
Gottlieb said Acker sent him a response to his letter, but didn't want to disclose what the judge wrote because it was personal correspondence. Gottlieb, who's scheduled to graduate next year, said he thinks Acker's action is mainly a symbolic gesture, since he doesn't know of any students who have applied to Acker for a clerkship.
Carl C. Monk, executive director of the Association of American Law Schools, said he had never heard of a judge withholding employment from an entire law school in the 15 years he has been with the organization.
``I certainly regret that any employer would refuse to consider students that graduate from a school that has chosen to exclude discriminatory employers, whether that employer be the military or any other,'' he said.
LOAD-DATE: March 28, 2005
« on: April 08, 2005, 10:57:44 AM »
Copyright 2005 Associated Press
All Rights Reserved
The Associated Press State & Local Wire
These materials may not be republished without the express written consent of The Associated Press
March 30, 2005, Wednesday, BC cycle
SECTION: State and Regional
LENGTH: 604 words
HEADLINE: UMass makes closing argument for law school
BYLINE: By KEN MAGUIRE, Associated Press Writer
University of Massachusetts officials say they'll reduce in-state tuition and step up private fund-raising to win the approval of the Board of Higher Education for a proposed public law school.
The board was scheduled to vote Thursday on UMass' plan to acquire the Southern New England School of Law in Dartmouth and create the state's first public law school. UMass claims it can operate the school at no cost to taxpayers.
Backers and opponents of the law school both lobbied hard Wednesday in hopes of swaying the vote.
John F. O'Brien, dean of the New England School of Law in Boston, wrote to the board saying it would hard for the law school to draw top students without national accreditation, while UMass administrators fine-tuned their sales pitch to respond to board members' concerns.
UMass President Jack Wilson told The Associated Press Wednesday that in-state tuition and fees would be around $16,000 in the first year. That's down from earlier projections of about $19,000, which would have been the fourth highest in-state tuition among the nation's public law schools.
Board Chairman Stephen P. Tocco said in a hearing last week that $19,000 was "much too high," and told school officials to bring the cost in line with other public law schools in the region.
In-state tuition is about $13,000 at the University of Maine's law school, and $14,000 at the University of Connecticut.
"The goal is to match (tuition) to the surrounding states," Wilson said.
But lowering in-state tuition means nonresidents would pay more.
"But it's not going to be that much larger," he said. "It doesn't have to go up by the same amount."
UMass has also pledged to raise $5 million to help offset the lower tuition, beef up the library, increase financial aid, and cover any shortfalls in enrollment projections - all of which is geared toward gaining national accreditation.
"We've increased the pledge of fund-raising, and we've shown where it would go," Wilson said.
Still, Board of Higher Education member Matthew E. Carlin said he plans to vote against the proposal. "From my standpoint: wrong initiative, wrong place at the wrong time," he said, declining to comment further.
Board member Kathleen A. Kelley, head of the state's second biggest teachers union, plans to vote for the law school, which she called a "wonderful opportunity" for UMass and for southeastern Massachusetts.
Other board members, including Tocco, did not return calls for comment on Wednesday.
University administrators want to merge the 260-student law school, which is not accredited by the American Bar Association, with the existing UMass-Dartmouth campus. They plan to double the enrollment while refocusing its curriculum on public service.
Southern New England agreed to donate its campus and other assets to the state, which in turn would accept $2.5 million in debt.
Administrators at the state's private law schools have been among the most strident opponents of the UMass plan, claiming the university eventually will need taxpayer support to get accredited.
"It stands to reason that if you're trying to recruit the best students, it's unlikely they're coming to your school if it's unaccredited," O'Brien said Wednesday, noting that the only way to attract them would be through tuition breaks. "You can't count on tuition revenues to sustain you in the early years."
Southern New England currently has regional accreditation allowing graduates to take the bar exam in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
UMass' Board of Trustees approved the merger in December.
LOAD-DATE: March 31, 2005