Wed, 29 Nov 2023

NEW YORK: This week, the Virginia-based Students for Fair Admissions, founded by affirmative action opponent Edward Blum, sued the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, claiming that the academy's affirmative action practices are unconstitutionally discriminating against white applicants.

The lawsuit aims to erase an exemption in a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that allowed U.S. military academies to continue using race as a factor for decisions on student admissions.

The June ruling, driven by the court's conservative majority, rejected the policies U.S. colleges and universities used to increase the number of Black, Hispanic, and other minority students.

However, in a footnote, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who authored the ruling, wrote that military academies had "potentially distinct interests."

In a brief regarding the case, the Biden administration argued that "the effectiveness of our military depends on a diverse officer corps ready to lead an increasingly diverse fighting force."

Many higher education institutions, corporations, and military leaders in the U.S. have backed affirmative action to ensure a talent pool that can offer a range of perspectives to the workplace and the armed forces.

Blum's group filed the lawsuit in federal court in White Plains, New York, which accused West Point of violating the principle of equal protection enshrined in the U.S. Constitution's Fifth Amendment. It sought an order preventing the academy from considering an applicant's race during admissions.

The group added that two of its members, white male high school students, were ready and able to apply to West Point, but their race would prevent them "from competing for admission on an equal footing."

The lawsuit claimed West Point is engaged in "racial balancing" when deciding who will be a future cadet and set benchmarks for the percentage of each class that should be filled by "African Americans," "Hispanics" and "Asians".

West Point's website stated that minorities comprised 39 percent of the 1,255 cadets admitted into its 2027 class.

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