The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is facing legal challenges over its admissions practices.
Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a conservative group, has taken legal action against the academy, claiming its admissions procedures, which consider race, are unconstitutional.
On September 19, SFFA lodged their concerns in a New York federal court, asserting that West Point’s consideration of race and ethnicity in its admissions process breaches the Fifth Amendment. The group is pushing for a race-neutral approach to admissions, emphasizing that “The Academy is not exempt from the Constitution.” Notably, this is the same group that recently secured a Supreme Court victory against Harvard’s race-centric enrollment policies.
SFFA’s recent legal filings highlight a shift in West Point’s admissions focus. Historically, the academy prioritized merit and achievement. However, SFFA alleges that race has become a primary factor in admissions decisions. They point to the academy’s publicized racial composition targets and statements from the director of admissions as evidence.
The group further argues that military operations and command structures are not influenced by race, emphasizing that soldiers follow orders irrespective of their commanding officer’s ethnicity.
West Point’s student demographics, as of October 2022, include 2,693 white students, 483 black or African American students, 545 Hispanic/Latino students, 414 Asian students, and 38 American Indian or Alaska Native students, out of a total of nearly 4,400 undergraduates.
Edward Blum, SFFA’s president, commented on the unique position of the military in national affairs but stressed that racial preferences in admissions to institutions like West Point are divisive and unpopular.
When approached for a statement, West Point’s public affairs office declined to comment on the ongoing case.
West Point’s official website outlines its commitment to fairness, justice, and equity through its Military Equal Opportunity program. The academy assures equal opportunities for all, irrespective of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
This lawsuit emerges amidst a larger debate on the influence of “wokeness” in the military. Critics argue that the military’s primary focus should be on competence and readiness. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently defended the U.S. military against claims of being “too woke,” asserting its strength and readiness.
However, Thomas Spoehr, director of the Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation, believes that “wokeness” has deeply permeated the military. He argues that resources are being diverted from enhancing military capability to “woke programs.” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has also expressed concerns over this issue, pledging to eradicate “wokeness” from the military.