SCOTUS Blocks Injunction Targeting Race-Conscious Admissions at West Point

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Despite ruling against race-conscious admissions processes in higher education last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court recently blocked a request to stop the practice at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. 

The request was made by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), the conservative advocacy group that filed the lawsuits against the University of North Carolina and Harvard that led to the court’s decision against race-conscious admissions. Similar to its argument in those cases, SFFA claims that West Point violates equal protection under the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against White applicants.

Though its ruling is seemingly contradictory to its earlier decision, the court stated in a brief order that it was not expressing “any view on the merits of the constitutional question,” but that SFFA’s request was “undeveloped.” The order does not settle the matter, however, with SFFA still being embroiled in a lawsuit against West Point and the Naval Academy in Maryland over their admissions processes.

Following SFFA’s injunction request, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar penned a response to the court on behalf of West Point, arguing in favor of race-conscious admissions in the military and pointing out that an immediate halt of such practices could cause irreparable harm.

“For more than 40 years, our nation’s military leaders have determined that a diverse Army officer corps is a national security imperative and that achieving that diversity requires limited consideration of race in selecting those who join the Army as cadets at [West Point],” Prelogar wrote. “…SFFA readily admits that ‘no court’ can know ‘how much less cohesive, attractive, or legitimate the Army will be under [a race-neutral admissions] regime.’ Yet it urges the court to immediately impose that regime without regard for the potential consequences.”