A new federal lawsuit accuses the US Military Academy at West Point of improperly considering the race and ethnicity of applicants when making admissions decisions.
The lawsuit was filed in New York’s Southern District on Tuesday by Students for Fair Admissions — the same group that successfully challenged affirmative action in higher education admissions in a landmark Supreme Court case that struck down the practice in June.
In the suit, Students for Fair Admissions claims West Point has benchmarks in place for how many Black, Hispanic and Asian cadets the institution should admit each class.
The lawsuit also accuses the military academy of discriminating on the basis of race and violating the equal protection principle in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
“Instead of admitting future cadets based on objective metrics and leadership potential, West Point focuses on race,” the complaint reads.
“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 group said West Point has “no justification for using race-based” admissions.
“Those admissions are unconstitutional for all other public institutions of higher education,” the lawsuit contends, citing Students for Fair Admissions’ successful summer Supreme Court case against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
The June 2022 ruling did not cover West Point or other US military academies but could be used by the jurists as precedent.
“Because West Point discriminates on the basis of race, its admission policy should be declared unlawful and enjoined,” the suit demands, also calling for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the military academy from considering or knowing an applicant’s race when making admissions decisions.
“Over the years, courts have been mindful of the military’s unique role in our nation’s life and the distinctive considerations that come with it. However, no level of deference justifies these polarizing and disliked racial classifications and preferences in admissions to West Point or any of our service academies,” Edward Blum, president of SFFA, said in a statement.
“Because the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent opinion in the SFFA cases expressly forbids all institutions of higher education from using race in admissions decisions, it must follow that the US military higher education institutions must end their race-based policies as well,” he added.
West Point touts that minority enrollment in its class of 2027 is roughly 38%, including roughly 10% Black, 11% Hispanic, 14% Asian American and 1% Native American.
The lawsuit names the Department of Defense, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and other military and West Point officials as defendants.
The academy said in a statement that it “does not comment on ongoing investigations to protect the integrity of its outcome for all parties involved.”
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