NewsHour: Virginia Military Institute’s Men Only Policy – January 17, 1996

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: You were at the Supreme Court today. Can you summarize the arguments for us?

STUART TAYLOR: Yes. Deputy Solicitor General Paul Bender led off for the Justice Department, and he stressed that VMI’s unique adversative-style education, that’s the buzz word which is kind of the boot camp approach of being abused and harassed by upperclassmen, is a valuable asset and that the VMI degree is a valuable asset to those men who go there, particularly because it’s a very prestigious institution with a loyal alumni body that channels people into successful careers.

He said that there’s no reason women should be denied the benefit of that sort of education; that there are some women who can hack it at a place like VMI, in the records yes, there are some, and that they ought to have that opportunity. He also claims that the arguments VMI has made and the Mary Baldwin people have made for the solution of keeping them in separate places depended on outmoded stereotypes, basically depended on the idea that there are some things women can’t handle, and this is one of them, and that the only remedy, in his view, is to integrate VMI. He says that the Mary Baldwin institution 35 miles down the road is not equal, is not the same, is not as good in, in various ways.

ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: How about the opposing side?