The group behind the lawsuits that led the Supreme Court to gut affirmative action at higher education institutions sued the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday, seeking to end the school’s race-conscious admissions policies.
The Supreme Court’s landmark affirmative action ruling in June did not apply to the nation’s military academies, but the Students for Fair Admissions’s lawsuit now seeks to extend that decision to West Point.
“SFFA’s reasoning makes it perfectly clear that West Point’s use of race in the admissions process is unconstitutional,” the lawsuit states.
The group asked a federal judge to prohibit West Point from considering or knowing applicants’ race when making admissions decisions, arguing the academy otherwise would never stop using race as a factor.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in White Plains, N.Y., claims race is determinative for “hundreds of applicants each year” at the academy under its current admissions scheme.
“Because skin color can be — and often is — a decisive factor for successful applicants who are chosen from those congressional nominee pools, it is equally dispositive for the other qualified nominees who are turned away,” the lawsuit states. “Put differently, because race is a ‘positive’ factor for some West Point applicants, it is necessarily a ‘negative’ factor for others.”
The Hill has reached out to West Point for comment.
In June, the Supreme Court in a pair of rulings effectively ended affirmative action in higher education nationwide by striking down Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s race-conscious admissions policies along ideological lines.
But Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion caveated that the court’s decision did not apply to military academies.
“The United States as amicus curiae contends that race-based admissions programs further compelling interests at our Nation’s military academies,” he wrote. “No military academy is a party to these cases, however, and none of the courts below addressed the propriety of race-based admissions systems in that context. This opinion also does not address the issue, in light of the potentially distinct interests that military academies may present.”
Students for Fair Admissions, headed by conservative legal strategist Edward Blum, has recruited plaintiffs to file challenges against schools’ admissions policies for years.
It is bringing its West Point challenge on behalf of two anonymous plaintiffs. They are described in court filings as two white male high school students who want to apply to West Point over the next few years.
“Unless West Point is ordered to stop using race as a factor in admissions, Member A’s race will prevent him from competing for admission on an equal footing,” the lawsuit states.