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Conservative advocacy group targets race-based admissions at West Point

UPI
Students for Fair Admissions, the group responsible for the U.S. Supreme Court decisions limiting affirmative action practices at universities across the country, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Students for Fair Admissions, the group responsible for the U.S. Supreme Court decisions limiting affirmative action practices at universities nationwide, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

The lawsuit seeks to go after the practice of race-conscious admissions at the military academy, commonly referred to as West Point.

The prestigious institution was exempt, along with the nation's other military academies, from the previous Supreme Court decisions in cases against the private Harvard University and public University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The majority justices had determined in a footnote of the decision that it would not address admissions at military academies because none were a party to the previous lawsuit. The federal government had also filed a brief contending that race-based admissions programs are "compelling interests at our nation's military academies."

"No military academy is a party to these cases, however, and none of the courts below addressed the propriety of race-based admissions systems in that context," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

"This opinion also does not address the issue, in light of the potentially distinct interests that military academies may present."

Students for Fair Admissions has now decided to specifically name one of the nation's military academies in a lawsuit to close the exemption outlined by the Supreme Court.

The group began its lawsuit by stating that West Point has long evaluated cadets "based on merit and achievement" and "for good reasons."

"America's enemies do not fight differently based on the race of the commanding officer opposing them, soldiers must follow orders without regard to the skin color of those giving them, and battlefield realities apply equally to all soldiers regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin," the lawsuit reads.

"To that end, President Truman desegregated the military well before other institutions followed suit."

Lawyers for the group said that, over the past few decades, West Point "has strayed from that approach" and now "focuses on race."

"West Point has no justification for using race-based admissions. Those admissions are unconstitutional for all other public institutions of higher education," the group said, citing its own lawsuit against Harvard. "The Academy is not exempt from the Constitution."

The group claims the academy's policies are determinative for "hundreds of applicants each year."

"Because race is a 'positive' factor for some West Point applicants, it is necessarily a 'negative' factor for others," the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of two unnamed plaintiffs, described as two white male teenagers in high school who want to apply to the academy.