Supreme Court Allows West Point Academy to Continue to Consider Race in Application Process

Photo of West Point Academy / Barbara Ann Spengler https://www.flickr.com/photos/sillysocks/8660704115

WASHINGTON — On Friday, the Supreme Court declined the emergency request by conservative group Students for Fair Admissions to stop allowing West Point Military Academy from using race in their admission process. The higher court said that their case was “underdeveloped” and would continue to allow West Point to utilize race as a determining factor in their application process. 

Last year, the SFFA group brought two significant cases against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina to the Supreme Court, which led to the abolishment of affirmative action in college admissions by a 6-3 vote. Chief Justice John Roberts exempted military academies from this ruling. Roberts noted that military academies present “distinct interests” that differ from the admissions processes of traditional four-year universities. 

Students for Fair Admissions sued West Point Academy in 2023 in two separate cases that stated that the “military academy’s use of race in their admissions processes is unconstitutional.” Lower courts have continued to deny the group’s requests to stop the use of race in current admissions processes while their lawsuits continue. 

A federal judge denied a preliminary injunction in December because “the group failed to show that it could likely prove the academy’s use of race in admissions decisions was discriminatory.” 

The Biden Administration has requested that the Supreme Court not get involved in the group’s emergency requests or lawsuits as it would “profoundly disrupt” West Point Academies’ current application process at this time. 

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argues that the group demands that West Point alter its admissions process immediately, including retraining admissions officers and restarting any considerations currently being made for the upcoming class of 2028—the West Point Academies application deadline for this upcoming class ended January 31, 2024. 

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar also explained her defense of the academy’s use of race in its admissions process. Prelogar warns “that a lack of diversity in leadership can jeopardize the Army’s ability to win wars.” 

U.S. District Judge Philip M. Halpern also commented that, while their emergency request was denied thus far, West Point in the future might have to conduct admissions differently, or the school might also be able to prove that they have “compelling governmental interests to conduct its admissions process the way it does.” 

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