Activists slam conservative group aiming to eliminate race-based admissions for military institutions

Students for Fair Admissions aims to stop members of the Black community from achieving the “American dream,” said Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way.

Advocates are applauding a recent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that, at least for now, will allow race-based admissions to continue at the nation’s top military academy.

The high court refused to temporarily prohibit the consideration of race for admissions at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. However, the conservative group behind the push remains committed to gutting the practice after previous success at blocking race admissions for colleges and universities last summer.

Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit legal advocacy company founded by conservative activist Edward Blum, is “trying to make it harder for Black and brown people to serve as officers in the military and attend places like West Point,” said Svante Myrick, president of People For the American Way.

The former Mayor of Ithaca, New York, told theGrio that the “extremist group” aims to stop members of the Black community from achieving the “American dream” by limiting their options and “access to higher ranks in the military.”

Blum is also behind the court case against the Fearless Fund, an organization providing grants to Black female entrepreneurs aimed that closing the gender and racial gap in venture capital funding.

Sarah Hinger, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told theGrio that the nonprofit organization is sending the message that “racial equity and racial diversity don’t matter.”

“That is very harmful to the military’s overall effective function,” she added.

United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.,

On Friday, the Supreme Court denied a request from Students for Fair Admissions to temporarily prohibit the United States Military Academy at West Point from considering race in college admissions.

In June 2023, the majority-conservative court decided to gut the race-based admissions process at colleges and universities across the nation after Students for Fair Admissions argued that the practice discriminated against white and Asian applicants applying to Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. However, the justices included one caveat: military schools were exempt from the ruling.

In the over 200-page opinion, the justices cited that they believe military institutions thrive from a diverse student population.

Following the ruling, Students for Fair Admissions filed a lawsuit against West Point, alleging that the practice of using race as a factor to admit students at the academy is unconstitutional and puts some applicants at a disadvantage.

On Jan. 3, a district judge refused to overhaul West Point’s application process. As a result, Students for Fair Admissions petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. Although the justices denied the request, the lawsuit could return to the Supreme Court in the future if the issue is not resolved in a lower court.

Myrick told theGrio that the lawsuit was drafted by “bigots who have a very narrow vision of the American way” and were “emboldened” to file the recent lawsuit given the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action.

The U.S. Supreme Court,
FILE – In this Jan. 25, 2012 file photo, the Supreme Court Building is seen in Washington. The Supreme Court is adopting its first code of ethics, in the face of sustained criticism over undisclosed trips and gifts from wealthy benefactors to some justices. The policy was issued by the court Monday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The progressive leader said that the Biden-Harris administration must continue to “quickly” confirm “good judges” to the lower courts to avoid cases like this one from moving forward.

Hinger of the ACLU said that if Students for Fair Admissions succeeds in its case against West Point, the ruling “will have significant ramifications on the military and people of color.”

She said that, in recent years, cadets at West Point, which is a predominantly white institution, have “voiced their concerns and their experiences with racism.”

“These are things that the military needs to continue to take seriously,” she said.

Hinger believes that to help combat racism within the military and military educational institutions like West Point, race should continue to be a factor in college admissions to promote diversity.

She told theGrio that the lack of diversity within the military’s highest ranks shows “there is a continued need for concerted attention to this question of diversity and ensuring that opportunity is open to people of all races.”

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