The Supreme Court on Friday declined a request by a conservative legal group to prevent the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from using race as a factor in its upcoming admissions cycle, as the group's constitutional challenge continues in a federal appeals court.
Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), which was at the center of the Supreme Court's landmark 6-3 decision in June that ended race-based admissions in higher education, filed a lawsuit against West Point in September in New York on behalf of two anonymous plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs were described in the lawsuit as white males eager to apply to West Point "who will suffer harm because they will be denied the opportunity to compete for a West Point appointment on equal grounds, solely because of their race."
In an emergency decision Friday, the justices declined SFFA's request.
"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," the court said in an unsigned order.
On Jan. 3, U.S. District Judge Philip Halpern, a Donald Trump appointee, issued a preliminary ruling favoring West Point, leading SFFA to appeal to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. On Monday, a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit declined to block West Point's policies as it considers the group's appeal in full.
"It is disappointing that the young men and women who apply to West Point for the foreseeable future will have their race used as a factor to admit or reject them," Edward Blum, president of SFFA, said Friday in an email to Newsmax. "Every year this case languishes in discovery, trial, and appeals means that our nation's best and brightest young men and women will be classified, sorted, and preferred based on their skin color rather than just on their abilities."
SFFA's challenge might be difficult considering the language Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion in the June case that struck down using race-based admissions used by Harvard and the University of North Carolina.
"The majority does not dispute that some uses of race are constitutionally permissible," he wrote. "Indeed, it agrees that a limited use of race is permissible in some college admissions programs. In a footnote, the Court exempts military academies from its ruling in light of 'the potentially distinct interests' they may present."
U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, defending West Point, used Roberts' words in her brief to the Supreme Court to reject SFFA's request.
"The district court correctly held that SFFA has not satisfied any of the requirements for upending the status quo at this early stage of the litigation, which is only four months old," Prelogar wrote. "And SFFA certainly has not met the far higher standard for securing from this Court interim injunctive relief that the lower courts have declined to grant."
Michael Katz ✉
Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.
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