Public universityinvestigatingstudentsforsteppingonHamasandHezbollah fla...

Scarberry, Mark Mark.Scarberry at
Sat Feb 17 10:31:31 PST 2007

I don't think it's accurate to say that there has been a large increase in ex-cons in the military. The news stories did indicate the the armed forces are granting more waivers for volunteers who have a conviction of some sort, but the total percentage of enlistees who get such waivers is still small, I think. In addition, a lot of the waivers are for relatively minor juvenile offenses. The idea that young men (particularly) who have some trouble with discipline can benefit from being in the military, which can also benefit from their aggressiveness once it is brought under control, is not new. The military is not granting waivers for hardened criminals.
The news stories could have been written with a pro-military spin, about how the military is helping young people who have a strike against them become productive citizens through military service. A private employer who was willing to hire young people who had such strikes probably would be praised, especially since a lot of the young people who will be helped will be ethnic minorities. But in today's environment, in which the story needs to be about how the military is in trouble, the story was spun to make it look like the military was scraping the bottom of the barrel. That's not a good way for the media to treat people who are willing to serve the nation.
In addition, my sense is that the average educational level of those is the armed services compares quite favorably with that of the civilian population. Some of the negative reaction to John Kerry's gaffe (about how lack of education gets one stuck in Iraq) brought out the facts, which made him look quite foolish.
For a first-hand view of the quality of the American military, see Hugh Hewitt's interview  of John Burns, the chief NY Times correspondent in Baghdad (who has been there several years):
Here is an excerpt (from
"But I can speak to you about how we correspondents at the New York Times feel about the American military in Iraq. We have covered the disasters. We've covered what happened at Abu Ghraib. We've covered what happened at Haditha. But I think I could say this on behalf of all of us who work at the New York Times, and who depends a great deal for our security on American forces, governments...there's an old saying that countries get the kind of governments they deserve. Well, I would say that may be true also of the military. And the United States military that we encounter are wonderful. They're magnificent. They're extremely brave, that goes without saying. They make an enormous effort to perform a civic as well as military duty in Iraq. They are people of honor, and they're people of whom America can be proud. And I say that an unhyphenated, unqualified way, and I hope that that finds its way into the columns of the New York Times, in the way that we report on this war. America has a fine military, a fine Army, a fine Marine Corps and Navy, and whereas we experience, it, and they're in an extremely difficult situation, what General Casey, the departing commander describes as a very convoluted situation from which there is no certain, safe, successful exit."
Pardon the somewhat off-topic nature of this post. I thought this needed to be said. Malla may be right that, for some volunteers, limited opportunities may make the military more attractive. But the quality of the volunteers is high, and their desire to serve is generally quite real.
Mark Scarberry


From: conlawprof-bounces at on behalf of Malla Pollack
Sent: Sat 2/17/2007 10:02 AM
To: DavidEBernstein at; redbeard at; conlawprof at
Subject: RE: Public universityinvestigatingstudentsforsteppingonHamasandHezbollah fla...

Thanks for the correction. I wonder how long this has been true. I put volunteer in quotation marks on the ground that limited job opportunities undermines the concept of volunteering.  For example, recent headlines have pointed to a large increase in ex-cons in the military.  


The argument submitted in many amicus briefs by leading employers, including persons alleging to give insight based on the US military and civil service's needs, was that more minority persons with "elite" education were needed for the officer corp and other executive groups to be accepted as legitimate by the rank and file.  Even if I erred, and the military is now over 50% white, these amici's  argument would be factually realistic if the percentage of white officers is much higher than the percentage of white enlisted men. If that was not true when the briefs were filed, the authors of those briefs misled Justice O'Connor.   As I read the opinion, this was quite important to her.  


Malla Pollack

Professor, American Justice School of Law

mpollack at

270-744-3300 x 28



From: DavidEBernstein at [mailto:DavidEBernstein at] 
Sent: Saturday, February 17, 2007 11:53 AM
To: mpollack at; redbeard at; conlawprof at
Subject: Re: Public university investigatingstudentsforsteppingonHamasandHezbollah fla...


I don't know what "volunteer" in quotation marks is supposed to mean (is there a secret draft I don't know about?), but by the army's calculations, based I believe on self-identification, over 60% of soldiers are "white."  Interestingly, though, less than half of female soldiers identify as "white."


Expanding beyond the army to the military as a whole, this study suggest that about 3/4 of the members of he U.S. military are white:


I don't know that this affects the affirmative action debate in any meaningful way, but I just thought I'd correct the record.


In a message dated 2/17/2007 12:15:58 PM Eastern Standard Time, mpollack at writes:

	IMHO Grutter turns on the amicus briefs supplying the military's input.  In
	the current USA "volunteer" army, the majority of troops are not "white."
	The military wanted to make sure it could have at least a credible number of
	minority officer candidates. Briefs also said the other fed govt employers
	wanted minority candidates with "elite" graduate school degrees to give the
	appearance that the government is "inclusive" enough to appear legitimate.
	Malla Pollack
	Professor, American Justice School of Law
	mpollack at
	270-744-3300 x 28


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