A federal judge on Thursday rejected a request by the group that successfully challenged race-conscious college admissions policies before the U.S. Supreme Court to bar the U.S. Naval Academy from similarly considering race when evaluating candidates to attend the elite military school.
At the end of a court hearing, U.S. District Judge Richard Bennett in Baltimore declined to issue a preliminary injunction sought by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a group founded by affirmative action opponent Edward Blum.
Bennett said Blum’s group had failed to show it would likely succeed in proving that the Annapolis, Maryland-based Naval Academy’s consideration of race as an admissions factor was discriminatory and a violation of equal protection rights under the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.
The judge, an appointee of Republican former President George W. Bush, said he understood why SFFA sued the Naval Academy after the Supreme Court issued its “transformational” ruling in June, even though the decision contained an exemption allowing military academies to continue to consider race.
Joshua Gardner, a U.S. Department of Justice attorney, at the hearing argued that the military had good reason to use race as an admissions factor to foster a future generation of diverse officers who can lead to an increasingly diverse fighting force.
Bennett, who served over 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and the Maryland National Guard, pointed to the history of racial tensions in the military before ruling.
“There have always been racial tensions in the military,” he said. “They have lessened, but they are still there.”
The judge said he would issue a written ruling within a week and would was going to set a swift schedule for the case to proceed to trial on the merits, noting the case could someday reach the Supreme Court.
A lawyer for SFFA, Cameron Norris, in court indicated the group may appeal. . . . (read more fromn Reuters)
Federal judge allows Naval Academy to continue using race in admissions — for now (Politico, 15 DEC 23)
A federal judge denied a request to temporarily bar the Naval Academy from using race in its admissions process during a hearing Thursday.
Judge Richard Bennett ruled from the bench in Baltimore that Students for Fair Admissions had not sufficiently shown that its case would likely succeed against the military school.
Bennett emphasized that his ruling was not on the merits of the case, but on the argument SFFA has presented so far.
Multiple times during the hearing, which ran more than two hours, Bennett was combative with the lawyers representing SFFA, a group whose lawsuits essentially dismantled race-conscious admissions in higher education earlier this year before the Supreme Court. . . . (read more)