The anti-affirmative action group whose Supreme Court case struck down race-based admissions practices at Harvard University now have a bulls-eye target on West Point Academy’s diversity admission program.
Anti-Affirmative Action Lawsuits
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point, which serves as a training ground for the Army’s future leaders has finally been added to a slew of lawsuits by conservative groups targeting affirmative action in higher education throughout the United States.
The long-running controversy over diversity in the military and whether race should be taken into account when choosing its commanders has been reignited, as stated, by the same group that opposed racial-conscious admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The group has now filed a lawsuit against West Point.
Civil attorneys representing Students for Fair Admissions(SFFA) recently sued the military academy in the Southern District of New York Court over its alleged use of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions.
The following defendants are listed in the lawsuit:
- Defense Department,
- Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin,
- Army Secretary Christine Wormuth,
- U.S. Military Academy Superintendent Steven Gilland,
- West Point Admissions Director Rance Lee.
SFFA President Edward Blum
The group led by ultra-conservative SFFA president Edward Blum has asked the court to declare that the institution’s use of race is unconstitutional and to put in place a preliminary injunction to stop West Point from considering or knowing an applicant’s race when making admissions decisions.
“Instead of admitting future cadets based on objective metrics and leadership potential, West Point focuses on race,” the lawsuit said. “In fact, it openly publishes its racial composition ‘goals,’ and its director of admissions brags that race is wholly determinative for hundreds if not thousands of applicants.”
The New York Academy enrolls approximately 1,200 to 1,300 cadets in each class, according to the court filing, and admits less than 10 percent of applicants.
SFFA President Blum also launched a website titled West Point Not Fair, which asks students if they were rejected from West Point, the Naval Academy, or the Air Force Academy.
Student quality should take precedence over race in admissions, according to Edward Blum, who formed the Students for Fair Admissions. The activist organization was at the center of last summer’s momentous Supreme Court case that outlawed affirmative action in college entrance. Blum brings the same argument to West Point.
Blum asserted that it is unjustified to judge people based on the color of their skin. There is virtue in evaluating officers and enlisted personnel based on their skill, loyalty, and dedication.
The nation’s military academies, where cadets and midshipmen are trained for leadership and admittance is renownedly competitive, are exempt from the Supreme Court’s June ruling. In a footnote to the ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court suggested that military academies might have particular reasons for taking race into account that civilian universities do not. Blum, however, asserted that it does not prevent him from contesting the regulation.
Blum claimed, “It was truly an agnostic statement.”
“It’s a little more complex,” the judge said. “The unique nature of the service academies was not before the court and, therefore, the court was not going to address it.”
Opportunity To Challenge
The supplement gave Students for Fair Admissions the opportunity to challenge West Point, claiming that its emphasis on race when screening applicants violates the Constitution’s equal protection clauses. The case gives new life to the age-old argument over the importance of diversity among military officers.
Affirmative action supporters, including those at the Defense Department, have long believed that diverse leaders are necessary in an increasingly diverse country, according to Eboni Nelson, Dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law.
“When you think about the importance of business leaders, everyone in the workforce, our judicial system, our legal system, and our military — having people from diverse backgrounds and diverse identities contributes to the positivity of those institutions in our society,” added Nelson. Better decision-making, successful educational outcomes, and cross-cultural understanding are all benefits of it.
Uncertain Path Forward
It’s uncertain whether the Supreme Court will hear the lawsuit against West Point. If so, the military’s ability to take race into account when considering applications for military academies must be determined by the court.
“I believe the court will have a very difficult time defining it,” Nelson also remarked. “And I don’t think they will find that the consideration of race is considered constitutional in this context,” the author continued. “When specifically asked to address this issue.”
“For most of its history, West Point has evaluated cadets based on merit and achievement,” the lawsuit said. “America’s enemies do not fight differently based on the race of the commanding officer opposing them, soldiers must follow orders without regard to the skin color of those giving them, and battlefield realities apply equally to all soldiers regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin.”
Regarding ongoing litigation, West Point declined to comment. The academy has worked to diversify its student body in recent years, and early this year it took down memorials to Robert E. Lee and other Confederate figures.
Reporter Clarence Walker can be reached at [email protected]