Judge denies request to block affirmative action at West Point

A federal judge on Wednesday ruled the U.S. Military Academy at West Point can continue considering race in its admissions process, denying a request to block affirmative action policies in the school.

In a ruling filed Wednesday in the Southern District of New York, Judge Philip Halpern rejected a group’s request for a preliminary injunction that would’ve put a halt to the school’s race-conscious admissions practices.

Halpern said the group, Students for Fair Admissions, did not meet the burden of proof on several grounds to grant the injunction.

Halpern’s ruling comes as part of a lawsuit from Students for Fair Admissions, the group behind the lawsuits that prompted the Supreme Court’s landmark affirmative action ruling last year. The high court’s ruling did not apply to military academies in the U.S., prompting the group to seek an extension for West Point.

The group, led by conservative legal strategist Edward Blum, asked a judge to ban West Point from considering or knowing an applicant’s race when making decisions for admissions, arguing the use of race in the process is “unconstitutional” and violates the aspect of equal protection in the Fifth Amendment.

In a pair of rulings last June, the Supreme Court essentially put an end to affirmative action in higher education across the country when it struck down the race-conscious admissions policies of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, ruled the high court’s decision does not apply to military academics in “light of the potentially distinct interests” that such schools “may present.”

West Point did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.

In a statement to The Hill, Blum said the group is reviewing the judge’s opinion and “will be taking the next steps to stop the unfair and unconstitutional racial preferences at West Point.”

Blum’s group has filed a series of challenges to schools’ admissions practices over the years and often recruits plaintiffs to file such challenges. Its suit against West Point is on behalf of two anonymous plaintiffs, who are described in court filings as two white male high school students looking to apply to West Point in the coming years.

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