Race-in-Admissions Battle Shifts to West Point

Group sues to end Supreme Court's exception to its June ruling for service academies
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2023 7:00 PM CDT
Race-in-Admissions Battle Shifts to West Point
FILE - A view of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., May 2, 2019. West Point was sued in federal court on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023, for using race and ethnicity as factors in admissions by the same group behind the lawsuit that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down affirmative...   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

When Chief Justice John Roberts wrote this summer in the Supreme Court decision against including race as a factor in college admissions that the ruling did not apply to military academies, the winning side noticed. On Tuesday, Students for Fair Admissions sued the US Military Academy at West Point in federal court to eliminate that exception, the New York Times reports, with a court decision that presumably would apply to other service academies. "West Point has no justification for using race-based admissions," the filing says, per CBS News. "Those admissions are unconstitutional for all other public institutions of higher education. The Academy is not exempt from the Constitution."

West Point did not comment on the lawsuit. The majority in the college case called diversity in the armed services a "battlefield issue," per NPR. Former military leaders had argued against ending the use of race in admissions. "Having a diverse officer corps is a critical national security imperative," Elizabeth Prelogar, the US solicitor general, said in oral arguments. A member of Congress and a former Army ranger objected to the June ruling, per the Hill. "The court is saying diversity shouldn't matter, EXCEPT when deciding who can fight and die for our country," Rep. Jason Crow wrote on Twitter, "reinforcing the notion that these communities can sacrifice for America but not be full participants in every other way."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in June that "the Court's carveout only highlights the arbitrariness of its decision and further proves that the Fourteenth Amendment does not categorically prohibit the use of race in college admissions." Students for Fair Admissions said that two of its members are white students who want to apply to West Point. But unless the academy stops considering race, the filing says, they will be prevented "from competing for admission on an equal footing." (More affirmative action stories.)

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