Sept 19 (Reuters) – The group that successfully challenged the admissions policies of race-conscious students in the U.S. Supreme Court sued the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday, saying the practices of Affirmative action by the military school constituted unconstitutional discrimination against white applicants.
The Virginia-based Students for Fair Admissions, founded by affirmative action opponent Edward Blum, is seeking in this lawsuit to erase an exemption contained in the June Supreme Court ruling that allowed prestigious U.S. military academies to continue to use race as one of the factors considered. student admissions.
The decision, supported by the court’s conservative majority, rejected policies long used by American colleges and universities to increase the number of black, Hispanic and other minority students on American campuses.
The Supreme Court’s invalidation of admissions policies used by Harvard University of the University of North Carolina did not address the consideration of race in admissions at West Point in New York, as well as ‘at the Naval Academy in Maryland and the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Chief Justice John Roberts, author of the decision, wrote in a footnote that the military academies have “potentially distinct interests.”
The Biden administration had argued in a brief in the case that “the effectiveness of our military depends on a diverse officer corps that is prepared to lead an increasingly diverse fighting force.”
Many higher education institutions, businesses and military leaders have long supported affirmative action on campus to ensure a pipeline of talent that can bring a range of perspectives to the workplace and the U.S. armed forces.
Blum’s group filed the suit in federal court in White Plains, New York. It accused West Point of violating the equal protection principle enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and sought an order barring the academy from considering an applicant’s race in admission.
It said two of its members — unidentified white high school students — were ready and able to apply to West Point, but that their race would prevent them “from competing for admission on an equal basis.”
The lawsuit says West Point engaged in “racial balancing” in deciding who will be a future cadet and set criteria for the percentage of each class that should be filled by “African Americans,” “Hispanics” and “Asians”.
Minorities made up 39% of the 1,255 cadets admitted to West Point for its class of 2027, according to its website.
Blum, who is white, said in a statement Tuesday that “no level of deference justifies these polarizing and hated racial classifications and preferences in admissions to West Point or any of our military academies.”
A West Point spokesperson had no immediate comment.
Founded in 1802, West Point’s graduates include former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, one of the first humans to walk on the moon. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the first black person to hold the position, also graduated from West Point.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Blum’s group in June, although it had upheld affirmative action in student admissions as recently as 2016. Students for Fair Admissions had argued that the challenged policies were discriminatory against white and Asian American applicants.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston and Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham
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