Myth: Allowing ROTC makes it more likely that the Solomon Amendment will be invoked against a university

Instances of this myth: The Brown ROTC Committee report stated about the Solomon Amendment:

Because Brown has maintained a relationship with the Providence College ROTC program over many years and allows military recruiters at career fairs, it has avoided any negative repercussions.

Considering this circumstance as a committee, there was general agreement that it would be necessary for Brown to maintain its current relationship with the Providence College program, so that the University would not be put at risk.

A footnote was included noting that:

One member of the committee cautioned that if the University were to expand its current relationship with ROTC, any decision to reduce that relationship at a later date would violate the Solomon Amendment, potentially placing the University further at risk.

A Brown Daily Herald column embellishes this further, claiming:

Brown's relationship with Providence College — where our students participate in Army ROTC — has kept us funded.

Facts: The Solomon Amendment states that no funds may be provided:

if the Secretary of Defense determines that that institution (or any subelement of that institution) has a policy or practice (regardless of when implemented) that either prohibits, or in effect prevents - (1) the Secretary of a military department from maintaining, establishing, or operating a unit of the Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps (in accordance with section 654 of this title and other applicable Federal laws) at that institution (or any subelement of that institution); or (2) a student at that institution (or any subelement of that institution) from enrolling in a unit of the Senior Reserve Officer Training Corps at another institution of higher education.

The fact the universities such as Brown have cross-town ROTC opportunities (provision 2) does not render it in compliance with the law if the university effectively bars on-campus ROTC (provision 1).

The Solomon Amendment has not been invoked for ROTC since it can be invoked only by the Secretary of Defense, who has not invoked the law for ROTC.  In contrast, the Solomon Amendment has been invoked for military recruiting, and the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that doing so was constitutional for military recruiting.  However, the ruling noted that "recruiters are not part of the law school", drawing a contrast to the situation on ROTC that leaves it unclear how the court would rule on an ROTC-related Solomon Amendment issue.  This uncertainty, together with the "shotgun wedding" nature of using the Solomon Amendment to force an ROTC program onto a campus, account for some of the reluctance of the Bush and Obama administrations to apply the Solomon Amendment to ROTC.

So, from a legal point of view, having cross-town ROTC opportunities does not make a university in compliance with the Solomon Amendment.  From a political point of view, however, it may influence the willingness of the Secretary of Defense to deem the university non-compliant with the law.  However, increasing the university's involvement with ROTC would make the Secretary of Defense less likely, not more likely, to invoke the Solomon Amendment. 

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