February 5, 2024

Supreme Court Turns Down Effort to Block West Point from Race Based Admissions

The Supreme Court, in a brief order on Friday, rejected a request by the conservative group Students for Fair Admissions to halt West Point's consideration of race in its admissions process.

The court's decision did not express a stance on the constitutional question's merits and emphasized the underdeveloped record in the case.

West Point, located in New York, educates U.S. Army cadets who later become officers. The ruling noted that it did not resolve whether military academies like West Point could continue considering race in admissions, acknowledging potential distinct interests presented by such institutions.

Students for Fair Admissions, the group responsible for cases leading to last year's Supreme Court ruling ending affirmative action in higher education, criticized the decision.

President Edward Blum expressed disappointment that race would continue to be a factor in West Point admissions, arguing that it categorizes applicants based on skin color rather than abilities.

The challengers, also pursuing a similar claim against the Naval Academy, requested an expedited ruling before the January 31 deadline for West Point admissions applications this year.

They argued that West Point's program, providing preferences to Black, Hispanic, and Native American applicants, contradicted the Supreme Court's previous decision.

Military leaders in the U.S. have emphasized the importance of racial diversity in leadership roles, aligning with the diverse composition of the armed forces.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar highlighted the national security imperative of a diverse Army officer corps, citing almost half a century of military leaders considering limited race considerations.

West Point has been reviewing applications since August and has already extended numerous offers. Lower courts had declined to immediately block West Point from considering race during the ongoing litigation.

The conflict is expected to continue as the legal battle pushes ahead with a full request for the Supreme Court to take on the case.

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