The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday declined a request to block the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from using race as a factor in admission decisions.
The Court ruled in June that colleges and universities can no longer use the affirmative action practice, except for the U.S. military academies.
The high court said universities were violating the Constitution’s equal protection clause with the practice.
At the time, SCOTUS struck down affirmative action policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina in a win for the group Students for Fair Admission (SFFA).
The Supreme Court was responding on Friday to the SFFA’s emergency request that it force the military academy to pause the practice while a lawsuit filed in September against West Point makes its way through the lower courts. The student group has also sued the Naval Academy.
“The application for writ of injunction pending appeal presented to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court is denied. The record before this Court is underdeveloped, and this order should not be construed as expressing any view on the merits of the constitutional question,” Friday’s order read.
In the emergency application filed last week, SFFA argued West Point is not “exempt” from the Harvard ruling. The application claims two White West Point applicants the group is representing will suffer “irreparable harm” if an injunction is not granted because the academy will “illegally discriminate against thousands of applicants for the class of 2028—including two of 26 SFFA’s members — based on their skin color.”
“Should these young Americans bear the burden of West Point’s unchecked racial discrimination? Or should West Point bear the burden of temporarily complying with the Constitution’s command of racial equality?” SFFA lawyers wrote to the justices.
U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar defended the policy in a Tuesday court filing. “For more than forty years, our Nation’s military leaders have determined that a diverse Army officer corps is a national-security imperative. Achieving that diversity requires limited consideration of race in selecting those who join the Army as cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point.”
In response to SFFA, the government asked the court to deny SFFA’s request.
“The injunction SFFA seeks would force the Army to abandon policies that senior military leaders have deemed imperative to developing an effective fighting force, thereby harming ‘the public interest in national defense,’” Prelogar wrote.
The petition comes after a federal judge in New York denied SFFA’s request earlier this month, stating that the group couldn’t show it was likely to ultimately prevail in the case.
SFFA had asked the court to make its decision by West Point’s application deadline next Wednesday. Prelogar argued that West Point’s application process is already well underway and an injunction would be “profoundly disruptive.”
Fox News’ Teny Sahakian contributed to this report.
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