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How Elena Kagan worked to limit military recruiting at Harvard

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To many Americans – including those with family and friends on overseas deployments – any effort to restrict military recruitment endangers US service members and the country.

In her statement announcing that military recruiters would be barred from the school’s office of career services, Kagan said: “I am gratified by this result, and I look forward to the time when all law students have the opportunity to pursue any legal career they desire.”

White House: Recruiters always had access

Immediately after her Supreme Court nomination was announced, the White House moved to counter queries on military recruiting with a coordinated response: At no time were recruiters barred from the law school campus.

Administration officials and other Kagan supporters stressed that a student veterans group agreed to help facilitate student access to military recruiters during this period.

The clear suggestion was that Kagan’s policy change had no real impact on military recruiters. But the recent release of 850 pages of Defense Department documents tells a different story.

Polite and patient military recruiters were told by Harvard officials to call back later. They received this response again, and again, for weeks until the recruiting season had ended.

“The Army was stonewalled at Harvard. Phone calls and emails went unanswered,” an Army recruiter said in a March 2005 memo. “The [career services director] refused to inform students that we were coming to recruit and the [career services director] refused to collect resumes or provide any other assistance.”

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