Students for Fair Admissions filed a lawsuit against West Point on Tuesday.
The group argued the military academy should no longer consider race in its admissions process.
The Supreme Court affirmative action decision did not include military academies in the ruling.
A prestigious military academy is the latest target of a group seeking to make sure race is not a consideration in any school's admissions process.
On Tuesday, Students for Fair Admissions — the group that won the Supreme Court case seeking to end affirmative action in college admissions — filed a lawsuit against United States Military Academy at West Point, pushing for it to get rid of race as a factor in its admissions process. While the Supreme Court ruling has pushed schools across the country to reevaluate their admissions process, even leading some to remove legacy preference from those processes as a result, the decision excluded military academies. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the opinion that the exclusion is because of "the potentially distinct interests that military academies may present."
Students for Fair Admissions is challenging that idea.
"For most of its history, West Point has evaluated cadets based on merit and achievement," the lawsuit said. "For good reasons: America's enemies do not fight differently based on the race of the commanding officer opposing them, soldiers must follow orders without regard to the skin color of those giving them, and battlefield realities apply equally to all soldiers regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin."
"Over the past few decades, however, West Point has strayed from that approach," the lawsuit added. "Instead of admitting future cadets based on objective metrics and leadership potential, West Point focuses on race."
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court Southern District of New York, called on the court to declare West Point's use of race in admissions unconstitutional and permanently prohibit the school from considering race in admissions. A West Point spokesperson said that "the U.S. Military Academy does not comment on ongoing litigation to protect the integrity of its outcome for all parties involved."
Students for Fair Admissions cited a 2022 amicus brief to the Supreme Court from 35 former leaders from all four military branches who supported diversity. They referred to a period during the Vietnam War when a lack of diversity in military leadership led to racial tension among soldiers. Students for Fair Admissions argued that the issues those leaders referenced have "not existed for the past half century."
"Moreover, the underlying assumption of West Point's argument is that soldiers view their peers and superiors foremost in terms of race, rather than in terms of their ability or character traits like loyalty, devotion, and selflessness," the group said. "Put differently, it assumes that soldiers apply the same racial stereotypes to one another that West Point applies to them."
West Point has yet to file a response to the lawsuit, but it's not the first institution to be targeted since the Supreme Court's affirmative action decision. Recently, Yale adjusted its admissions process to confirm it is not considering race at all when deciding to admit a student, leading Students for Fair Admissions to drop the lawsuit it filed against the Ivy League back in 2021.
While the Supreme Court arguments for affirmative action in college admissions were not focused on the military, US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar did touch on the issue: "For the United States military, as I've explained, having a diverse officer corps is a critical national security imperative."
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