Federal Judge Rules Against Injunction to Block Race-Based Admissions at U.S. Naval Academy

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Written By Maya Cantina

On Thursday, a federal judge ruled against an injunction to temporarily halt the United States Naval Academy’s race-based admissions policies, according to Reuters.

In September, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) filed a lawsuit against West Point challenging the use of race and ethnicity as admissions factors at the United States Military Academy.

SFFA alleges that West Point is violating the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

SFFA petitioned the Court to enter judgment in its favor and to provide the following relief:

  • A declaratory judgment that West Point’s use of race in admissions is unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment.
  • A preliminary injunction prohibiting West Point from considering or knowing an applicant’s race when making admissions decisions.
  • A permanent injunction prohibiting West Point from considering an applicant’s race when making admissions decisions.

Edward Blum, president of SFFA, said, “Over the years, courts have been mindful of the military’s unique role in our nation’s life and the distinctive considerations that come with it. However, no level of deference justifies these polarizing and disliked racial classifications and preferences in admissions to West Point or any of our service academies.”

Blum added, “Because the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent opinion in the SFFA cases expressly forbids all institutions of higher education from using race in admissions decisions, it must follow that the U. S. military higher education institutions must end their race-based policies as well.”

In October, SFFA filed a similar case against the Naval Academy after winning two cases involving Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at the Supreme Court in June.

According to Reuters, however, U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett ruled against SFFA’s request for an injunction at the military institutions, claiming that he felt the group had not proven the military’s use of race-based admissions for its academies was discriminatory.

Bennett, who served over 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and the Maryland National Guard, pointed to the history of racial tensions in the military before ruling.

“There have always been racial tensions in the military,” he said. “They have lessened, but they are still there.”

The judge said he would issue a written ruling within a week and set a swift schedule for the case to proceed to trial on the merits. He noted the case could someday reach the Supreme Court.

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