CHARLESTON, S.C. — The nation's chief justice cleared the way for Shannon Faulkner to report to The Citadel this morning as the first female cadet in the school's 152-year history.
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on Friday rejected an emergency request from the state-run military school to keep her out.
The Citadel made a last-ditch appeal to Justice Antonin Scalia, but he rejected the request without comment late Friday. Scalia could have granted the request or referred the matter to the full court.
"I am going to be in the corps and I will graduate as a member of the corps and other women will follow me," Faulkner said.
The 20-year-old junior, flanked by her lawyers and parents, popped the cork on a bottle of champagne in a garden in Charleston and filled their glasses. She had ice water.
Faulkner was to report to campus today with about 600 freshmen. U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck has ordered that federal marshals monitor her entry into the corps.
"I am confident I will be able to meet every standard The Citadel has in place on campus," she said. "I'm actually going to try to be the best cadet I can possibly be. And I'm not going to be on campus for anyone else but me."
Rehnquist, who studied the case from his vacation home in Vermont, gave no written reason for his decision.
"We intend to comply fully with the orders of the courts," said Citadel President Claudius E. Watts III.
"The issue concerning single-gender education is a legal controversy about which there are differing views and attitudes. It is not a fight between The Citadel and Shannon Faulkner," Watts said.
The Charleston school was ordered by a federal appeals court in April to admit Faulkner as a cadet if the state did not establish a comparable military program for women at some other school. The state is developing a $10-million women's leadership program at private Converse College, but it is still not complete.
The Citadel and Virginia Military Institute are the nation's only all-male, state-supported military colleges.