Judge Upholds West Point’s Use of Race in Admissions

Last Updated on January 16, 2024 11:56 AM CST

A federal judge in White Plains, New York, has ruled that the U.S. Military Academy at West Point can continue considering race in its admissions process. The decision came in response to a request for a preliminary injunction by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), an affirmative action opponent group founded by Edward Blum. The judge, Philip Halpern, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, rejected the injunction, stating that a full factual record is needed to determine if using race in West Point’s admissions serves compelling governmental interests. The judge also highlighted the potential disruption to the current admissions cycle if an injunction were granted.

SFFA, expressing dissatisfaction with the ruling, announced that they would be reviewing the opinion and taking further steps to challenge what they consider unfair and unconstitutional racial preferences at West Point. The U.S. Department of Justice, defending West Point’s admissions policy, declined to comment.

This legal battle follows a similar one in Maryland on Dec. 14, where a federal judge rejected SFFA’s request to prevent the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis from considering race in admissions. SFFA had sued both military academies this year with the aim of ending an exemption for them from the Supreme Court’s June ruling on college admissions, which allowed them to continue considering race.

Blum’s group alleges that West Point’s admissions practices discriminate against white applicants, while the Biden administration defends the military academies’ policies, arguing that diversity among officers is crucial for building trust within the armed forces. The Justice Department highlighted disparities in the racial composition of enlisted personnel versus officers in the Army, emphasizing the importance of West Point in achieving diversity goals.

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