Group sues West Point, seeking to ban affirmative action in admissions

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On June 13, 2020 in West Point (N.Y.), cadets of the United States Military Academy are seen at Plain Parade Field during commencement ceremonies.

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West Point graduating Cadets during commencement ceremony at Plain Parade Field, United States Military Academy, on June 13, 2020 in West Point (N.Y.).

John Minchillo/Pool/Getty Images

The suit is aimed at eliminating all racial considerations in the service academy’s admission program. In its landmark decision banning affirmative actions in colleges and universities last June, the Supreme Court declined to extend the ban to service academies for the time being. The court stated that “special considerations”, raised by the military, had not been addressed by lower courts. More than 300,000 Black Americans fought in Vietnam. The Defense Department concluded that the lack minorities in officer ranks “threatened integrity and performance” of the military. And since the Vietnam War, the service academies have aggressively addressed that problem by considering race, along with other qualities, in determining who to admit.

The admissions systems at the service academies are quite different than at civilian institutions, with members of Congress, the vice president, and the president all playing a role in recommending candidates for admission.

Now, however, students for Fair Admission, the same group that successfully sued Harvard and the University of North Carolina, has West Point and the other service academies in its sights. It claims in its lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, that West Point has renounced its merit-based admissions system in recent years in favor of one that is “focused” on race. SFAA claims that West Point “has no justification” for its race-based admissions. It also asserts that the academy “is not exempt from constitutional law.” The suit was filed at Federal District Court, New York. It is likely to end up in the Supreme Court sometime next year.