The Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a group that opposes affirmative action, filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the U.S. Naval Academy for using race in its admissions decisions.
The 28-page lawsuit aims to stop the Naval Academy from taking race into account when accepting students, arguing that an applicant’s race — particularly if they are Latino, African American or Native American — gives them an advantage in its admissions process. The group claims that the military school has “no justification for using race-based admissions” now that it has been outlawed for other colleges across the country.
SFFA had filed a similar lawsuit last month against West Point, just a few months after winning its lawsuit against Harvard over race-conscious admissions. In that case in June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The ruling affects colleges nationwide and puts an end to programs that were created to help students from marginalized groups secure spots in higher education.
But in a footnote to the ruling, the Supreme Court permitted race-based affirmative action for military academies, as the courts hadn’t addressed “the propriety of race-based admissions systems in that context.”
President Joe Biden disagreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling and said that the U.S. military — which he described as “the finest fighting force in the history of the world” — is proof that diversity brought strength.
In fall 2021, 13% of midshipmen at the Naval Academy were Latino, 10% multiracial, 8% of Asian descent and 6% Black or African American, according to The Washington Post
Multiple military academy leaders have said that their admissions process is holistic and that they take other factors into account when accepting students, The Washington Post reported.
In the lawsuit, SFFA argues that the academy’s policy violates the Fifth Amendment, which grants equal protection. The group also points to a 2010 New York Times opinion piece written by a Naval Academy professor about the admissions process. The professor wrote that “if an applicant identifies himself or herself as non-white, the bar for qualification immediately drops.”
“Because the Academy discriminates based on race, its admission policy should be declared unlawful and enjoined,” the lawsuit says.
A spokesperson told HuffPost that the Naval Academy does not comment on any pending litigation and declined to comment on the lawsuit.