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West Point sued by anti-affirmative action group for considering race in admissions

Students For Fair Admissions, the organisation that spearheaded the anti-affirmative action lawsuits that led the Supreme Court to strike down race-conscious admissions in higher education, has sued the United States Military Academy on the same grounds.

In a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York on Tuesday, the group claimed the school, known more commonly as West Point, had violated the Fifth Amendment by using race as a factor in its admissions.

“Instead of admitting future cadets based on objective metrics and leadership potential, West Point focuses on race,” the lawsuit alleges.

“Because West Point discriminates on the basis of race, its admission policy should be declared unlawful and enjoined.”

Citings its own lawsuits that were consolidated in the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year, SFFA claimed West Point has “no justification for using race-based admissions” and that “those admissions are unconstitutional for all other public institutions of higher education.”

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled that race-based admissions in private and public colleges and universities was unconstitutional as it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

But in the majority opinion, the court did not specify whether military academies like West Point were subject to the new ruling, writing in a footnote it was due to “the potentially distinct interests that military academies may present.”

As a result, SFFA has taken the opportunity to directly litigate military academies’ use of affirmative action.

Demonstrators for and against the U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down race-conscious student admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina confront each other, in Washington, US, June 29, 2023 (REUTERS)
Demonstrators for and against the U.S. Supreme Court decision to strike down race-conscious student admissions programs at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina confront each other, in Washington, US, June 29, 2023 (REUTERS)

The lawsuit claims that West Point has strayed away from evaluating and admitting cadets based on merit to making race a considerable factor.

“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 lawsuit alleges.

Citing the case of Lebrun v England (2002), which claims that service academies are subject to the Fifth Amendment,” SFFA says West Point has violated the equal protection principle that “binds the federal government.”

SFFA, headed by conservative legal strategist Edward Blum, has filed over 20,000 lawsuits on behalf of students and their parents who claim students did not get accepted to a selective university due to their race. since its founding in 2014.

The organistion aims to “Eliminate race and ethnicity from college and admissions.”