West Point Faces Lawsuit Over Alleged Race-Based Admissions Policy

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The prestigious U.S. Military Academy at West Point is currently embroiled in a lawsuit regarding its alleged race-based admissions policies. The complainants, Students for Fair Admissions, a conservative group previously victorious in a landmark case against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, filed the lawsuit on Tuesday. These past wins denounced affirmative action policies and stopped universities from considering race as a criterion for granting admissions.

The precedent of this case in June was significant as it challenged affirmative action policies aiming to enhance opportunities for historically marginalized groups. However, military service academies were specifically exempt from this ruling.

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In an attempt to rectify this, the current lawsuit targets admissions at the West Point military academy, asserting that its practices are unconstitutional and advocate racial discrimination. It implores the court to prohibit the academy from considering or even being aware of an applicant’s race during the admissions process.

The plaintiffs have claimed that the academy, like all other public institutions of higher learning, should be subject to constitutional mandates, emphasizing that any discrimination on the basis of race should result in the academy’s admission policy being deemed unlawful.

A spokesman for West Point refused to comment on the ongoing litigation in order to uphold the probity of its outcome for all parties involved.

As per recent data from the academy’s own website, out of nearly 4,400 undergraduates at West Point, 2,693 are White, 483 are Black or African American, 545 are Hispanic/Latino, 414 are Asian, and 38 are American Indian or Alaska Native.

In the lawsuit, it’s alleged that the academy has set demographic benchmarks and meticulously verifies compliance to these figures, down to a tenth of a percentage point. Consequently, the assertion purports that race plays a decisive role for hundreds of applicants each year.

Among the applicants nominated by U.S. representatives and senators, who make up three-quarters of each incoming class, the suit argues that race often becomes a decisive factor, impacting both successful applicants and those who are turned away.

Members of Students for Fair Admissions impacted by these claims include two white males who plan to apply to West Point. They have expressed concern that as the Academy considers race as a factor in admissions, they are precluded from competing for admission on an equal footing.

In the Supreme Court’s previous ruling against affirmative action, Chief Justice John Roberts opined that the Harvard and UNC admissions programs violated the Equal Protection Clause as they could not provide measurable objectives to justify the use of race. He also noted these programs often inadvertently involve racial stereotyping and do not specify an end point. However, he left open the potential for distinct future cases involving military academies.