It Could Be More Effective than Suing

A student blogger (on a group blog partly run by a UM student), asks an interesting question:

If anyone out there who happens to be a member of “Outlaw” or knows someone who is, can you tell me why the chapters throughout the American law schools have not joined forces and all signed up for JAG slots when they come to school to interview?

What happened to throwing a wrench into the machine? Wouldn’t this effectively make their presence on campus useless? Every slot filled with people unable (not allowed) to join? The school would still get their funds. Sure, some people who really wanted to go to JAG would be screwed, but there are always collateral losses. Have movements become too nice?

I wonder what you have to sign in advance of one of those interviews. Also, is there any federal law that could even arguably be used to make the student regret the protest?

Of course, if the tactic is to fill up all the slots, one need not limit the protest to gay students. Pacifists, committed corporate lawyers, all could certainly smile pleasantly at the vistiting officers for 30 to 60 minutes …

It’s a perfect Alinksy tactic, although I’m afraid it also puts me in mind of Arlo Guthrie,

And the only reason I’m singin’ you the song now is ’cause you may know somebody in a similar situation.

Or you may be in a similar situation, and if you’re in a situation like that, there’s only one thing you can do:

Walk into the shrink wherever you are, just walk in, say, “Shrink, . . . you can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant”, and walk out.

You know, if one person, just one person, does it, they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him.

And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them.

And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’ out? They may think it’s an organization!

And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day . . . walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’ out? Friends, they may think it’s a MOVEMENT

So maybe some four part harmony and feeling is all they’d need?

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8 Responses to It Could Be More Effective than Suing

  1. CG says:

    As co-president of OUTlaw, let me say that at some schools, they do this a lot. I suggested it to the members of my group, but the feared response is not from the JAG or any federal pressure, but the administration of the school. There have been instances at other schools of very unpleasant consequences of doing such a thing, and…it doesn’t stop the recruiters from coming on campus. They might not recruit anyone, but they still have to be allowed to try. None of the schools that I am aware of who have tried this have seen any long term change. Sure, no one else joins JAG, but JAG still comes to visit every year.

  2. Ugh says:

    Considering that JAG lawyers were some of those who raised the strongest objections to the torture advocates in the Pentagon, I can’t imagine a more disastrous thing to do (OTOH, I’m sure Rumsfeld would love it, no more pesky lawyers around making sure he follows the law).

  3. Bricklayer says:

    1. Why does the blogger assume that all members of OUTlaw are necessarily gay? To my knowledge, OUTlaw does not descriminate in its membership. Why does the blogger assume that all members of OUTlaw are necessarily opposed to the military’s recruitment policy and/or serving one’s country in the JAG corps?

    2. Ugh makes an excellent point. He correctly recognizes the velvet mafia’s knee-jerk reaction to anyone that doesn’t see things their way. That jerking knee places their foot in the path of their own shot.

    3. Frankly I find it unfortunate that law students feel that this would be an appropriate way to advocate for change, i.e. by showing fellow lawyers a complete lack of courtesy. Politely protest on campus, and challenge the policy in the courts. Don’t waste another lawyer’s valuable time.

    4. I also think that OUTlaw ought not act so indifferently towards the sentiments of their fellow students and alumni. Many have no opposition to the recruitment policy and do (despite CG’s unsubstantiated claims) consider the JAG corps as a possible career choice. The OCI rules are clear: don’t bid on interviews you have no intention of pursuing, as this deprives your collegues of opportunity.

    5. Instead of the course of action proposed by the blogger, I would instead encourage the members of OUTlaw to pursue other military-like careers and prove to the American military policy-makers that gays do make great soldiers and their current policy is myopic:
    a) Enlist in foreign military services that allow foreigners such as the Israeli Defense Forces or the French Foreign Legion, and earn military decorations.
    b) Pursue a career in elite police work such as SWAT, the DEA or Secret Service.
    c) Achieve mastery of a martial art and consider competing in an Ultimate Fighting contest.

  4. Max says:

    I was at Yale when they first started up these kinds of protests (particularly when a number of OUTlaw students stood in front of the law school with suits on and camoflauged duck tape on their mouths). In my experience (there and elsewhere), a “fill the slots” strategy is almost always suggested, but then almost always turned down when the dual counterarguments are advanced that (1) the JAG officers, and indeed the whole military, are not the ones who can change this and (2) unlike a private organization, JAG does something vital for society, and so an attempt to thwart their goals is a strike at the society itself.

    To put into more concrete words, (1) if you’ve got a problem with discrimination in the military, tell your Congress & President (I have) and (2) if Exxon goes under for bigotry, the US doesn’t skip a beat, but if the military has no internal legal system, we all have a big problem on our hands.

  5. the ghost of lawfool says:

    The original post has been removed from the blawg you pointed to. Hmm?
    Bricklayer:
    It doesn’t seem that the original poster DID say that all outlaw members were gay. Where did you get that from. And boo, who, who for “wasting another lawyer’s time” and “depriving collegues of opportunity”. There’s no crying in baseball!

    Sweet.

  6. Matt says:

    Something along these lines has been done at Penn for several years. It’s set up so that those who honestly want to interview still can- no point in harming one’s fellow students- but so that a large number of slots go to “protest” interviews. Sometimes the students are told that the don’t ask don’t tell policy doesn’t apply to the summer program. I’m sure that makes loads of people want to sign up.

  7. Lindsay Harrison says:

    I was co-President of Harvard Lambda when Harvard caved and let JAG recruit on our campus. I spearheaded the effort to take up all the slots, and it was mightily effective. I enjoyed my interview with Navy JAG immensely — I introduced myself and told them that I was gay and that I was interested in discussing the DADT policy with them. They were very respectful and we spoke for about 15 minutes before the next Lambda student walked in for his interview. The impression I got from the interview was that the JAG attorneys disagreed with the DADT policy (especially as it applies to JAG, as opposed to combat positions), but they could not say so directly due to their positions.

    Here is the link to the article I wrote in the Record (the HLS student newspaper) at the time:
    http://www.hlrecord.org/media/paper609/news/2002/09/12/Opinion/Jag-Must.Go.Time.For.Civil.Disobedience-280905.shtml?norewrite&sourcedomain=www.hlrecord.org

  8. T.I. says:

    So much discourse. I would however disagree with BrickL’s use of “unsubstantiated claims” language.

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