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US Supreme Court won’t halt West Point from considering race in admissions

2024.02.02 17:48


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Cadets salute whereas U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris arrives to attend the 2023 commencement ceremony on the United States Military Academy (USMA), at Michie Stadium in West Point, New York, U.S., May 27, 2023. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

By John Kruzel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday declined to dam the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the distinguished Army college, from considering race as an element in admissions selections whereas a authorized battle over the apply proceeds in decrease courts.

The justices denied a request from Students for Fair Admissions, a gaggle based by affirmative motion opponent Edward Blum, after decrease courts refused to halt the apply. The group was behind a profitable Supreme Court problem to race-conscious collegiate admissions insurance policies in instances involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.

No justice publicly dissented from the court docket’s temporary order.

“The record before this court is underdeveloped, and this order should not be construed as expressing any view on the merits of the constitutional question,” the choice acknowledged.

The lawsuit stated West Point’s admissions practices discriminated towards white candidates and violated the U.S. Constitution’s precept of equal safety.

West Point is a army service academy in New York state that educates cadets for commissioning into the U.S. Army, counting amongst its graduates former U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Ulysses Grant and present Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Students for Fair Admissions, a Virginia-based nonprofit, had requested the Supreme Court to determine the request by the academy’s software deadline for the category of 2028, which was on Wednesday.

The U.S. Justice Department informed the Supreme court docket in a submitting that it strengthens U.S. nationwide safety to have a extra numerous corps of officers, a lot of whom start their Army careers at West Point. West Point graduates comprise roughly one in 5 Army officers, one in three generals and practically half of present four-star generals, the division stated.

“Diversity, including racial and ethnic diversity, makes a more effective fighting force – more cohesive and lethal, better able to attract and retain top talent, and more legitimate in the eyes of the nation and the world,” the division stated in its temporary.

Many U.S. schools and universities, together with the nation’s army service academies, used affirmative motion insurance policies that thought of race as considered one of quite a few components in admissions to extend their enrollment of Black, Hispanic and sure different minority college students.

Blum, who for years has pursued lawsuits difficult affirmative motion insurance policies, has referred to as race-conscious admissions “antithetical to our nation’s military institutions and mission.”

U.S. District Judge Philip Halpern in White Plains, New York, rejected a request by Blum’s group for a preliminary injunction on Jan. 3 and rebuffed its request for an emergency injunction the following day. The group appealed Halpern’s selections to the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which denied the group’s emergency request on Monday.

The deserves of the case are nonetheless being contested earlier than Halpern, who has issued a preliminary discovering in favor of West Point however not a ultimate choice.

Blum’s group sued final September, difficult West Point’s admissions course of on behalf of two Students for Fair Admissions members – a highschool pupil making use of for the primary time and a first-year school pupil making use of for the second time. Both of the male college students, whose names had been withheld attributable to what they stated was a worry of reprisal by West Point, “are fully qualified but white,” the group stated.

In invalidating admissions insurance policies at Harvard and UNC final yr as a violation of the Constitution’s equal safety protections, the Supreme Court didn’t deal with race in admissions at army academies.

President Joe Biden’s administration, in defending the race-conscious admissions insurance policies utilized by the army service academies, stated that senior army leaders lengthy have acknowledged {that a} shortage of minority officers can create mistrust throughout the armed forces.

“The Army learned that lesson the hard way when decades of unaddressed racial tension and disparities fundamentally threatened the military’s ability to protect national security during the Vietnam (war) era,” the Justice Department wrote in its temporary, noting that the Army was “plagued by accusations that white officers were using minority servicemembers as ‘cannon fodder.'”

The different army service academies are: the Naval Academy in Maryland, the Air Force Academy in Colorado, the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut and the Merchant Marine Academy in New York.

Students for Fair Admissions has additionally sued the Naval Academy over its race-conscious admissions coverage. A federal decide in Maryland has scheduled the case to go trial in September.

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