[Editor’s note: Make sure to read Daniel Greenfield’s masterpiece contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
One of the Biden administration’s big arguments for racially discriminating against white and Asian students in college admissions was the need for military diversity. More than half of the ‘national interest’ section in its amicus brief argued that the military “depends on a well-qualified and diverse officer corps” which requires that colleges select for diversity over merit.
“It is not possible to achieve that diversity without race-conscious admissions, including at the nation’s service academies,” Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar told the Supreme Court.
The Roberts decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard shot down affirmative action as a legal practice, but punted on the question of racial discrimination within the military and its service branch academies. A footnote briefly stated that, “no military academy is a party to these cases, however, and none of the courts below addressed the propriety of race-based admissions systems in that context. This opinion also does not address the issue, in light of the potentially distinct interests that military academies may present.”
The idea that racial discrimination should be illegal at colleges, but still legal at service branch academies like the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy, is a loophole. Justice Sotomayor argued that the exception proves that “the Fourteenth Amendment does not categorically prohibit the use of race in college admissions.” And it’s hard to deny her reasoning. Either racially discriminating against students is legal or it’s illegal. National security can only go so far to justify an illegal practice especially when it’s a social element with an indirect effect.
Democrats quickly attacked Justice Roberts for seemingly leaving the carveout on military diversity that the Biden administration had demanded as a matter of national security.
“Adding insult to injury is that the Court exempted military service academies, like West Point and the Naval Academy, from its own ruling,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin complained. “So the majority on the Court does in fact recognize the inherent importance of a diverse military and that diversity makes our country not only more fair, but more stable and secure — but they refuse to allow our colleges and universities to hold the same values.”
“This decision is deeply upsetting but outright grotesque for exempting military academies. The court is saying diversity shouldn’t matter, EXCEPT when deciding who can fight and die for our country,” Rep. Jason Crow tweeted, inverting an illegal racial preference into a disadvantage.
Justice Roberts’ footnote and the outcry from Democrats and Republicans over the status of service branch academies suggests that affirmative action at service branch academies may have to be revisited at some point. Meanwhile some members of Congress are acting.
Senator Roger Wicker, a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, plans to introduce his ‘Military Merit, Fairness, and Equality Act of 2023’ as an amendment to the defense bill which would “prohibit the Department of Defense from prioritizing the demographic characteristics of service members above individual merit and demonstrated performance.”
The senator has said that as part of that his amendment “would further prohibit our military service academies from engaging in race-based affirmative action.”
This legislation isn’t likely to advance in a Democrat Senate, but may be the beginning of an important conversation. Affirmative action did not arrive in the military yesterday, it has been around for far too long, but in recent years it has escalated to an alarming degree.
In May, an exclusive investigation by Front Page Magazine and the David Horowitz Freedom Center revealed that Air Force Chief of Staff Charles Q. Brown Jr., Biden’s nominee to succeed Milley as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had signed off on a quota that would keep the number of white male officers in the Air Force down to only 43%.
Even before Senate hearings on Brown’s nomination get underway, the American Accountability Foundation filed a complaint against the Air Force boss on the grounds that “General Brown has made statements in favor of making hiring and promotion decisions in the Air Force based on race.” It notes Brown’s public statements such as “I hire for diversity” and “I purposely build my office, my front office, and my team with diverse” backgrounds.
Military officials have stated publicly that service academies “employ race as a factor in recruiting and admission policies and decisions.” This is illegal, but there’s a reason that it’s been the trump card of proponents of this form of systemic racism. Many things get a pass when national security is introduced into the equation. National security has been used by the Biden administration to argue that abortion and transgender procedures on children should be legal. The Biden military brass have chosen to halt confirmation of 150 nominees, including the new commandant of the Marine Corps, rather than abandon its allegiance to abortion.
While the Biden administration has no interest in winning any wars, it wants to fight its culture wars using the military. Service branch academies have become battlegrounds on issues such as BLM and the LGBTQ movement. The Biden administration has also led a purge of alumni and conservatives from boards, including from the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy.
Chief Justice Roberts may have wanted to avoid addressing racial discrimination at service branch academies, but it is an inescapable question. Unlike Harvard and Yale, there isn’t a sympathetic high-achieving minority group in the crosshairs. Asians are seen as underrepresented in the military and especially the officer corps, but their numbers have been growing sharply.
Asian students and candidates generally suffer from racial preferences in academic settings, but the military is still a case where they are seen as statistically underrepresented and less likely to be impacted by affirmative action. That is another reason why the Left would like to take the battle over systemic racism in college admissions into the service branch academies.
A legal battle over racial discrimination in and around the military would have white people as the victims. And not only white people, but poor white people. As the Biden amicus brief notes, “West Point, for example, reports that its efforts to emphasize socioeconomic status have actually reduced racial diversity”. What that means is that providing special preferences to poor kids reduced ‘diversity’ by helping poor white candidates. The same people who form the backbone of the active duty combat military. Discriminating by race is required, the Biden administration implicitly admitted, to keep poor white kids down in the ranks.
Those are the same poor white kids taking jobs at an Amazon warehouse or a fast food place instead of risking their lives for a military brass that wants them to be ready to die without hope of rising in the ranks to a real career because they were born with the wrong skin color.
There is a compelling moral case to be made for ending racial discrimination in the military. And an even more compelling national security case. Senator Wicker noted that, “a recent survey found nearly 7 in 10 active members believe the armed forces are being politicized and that this would affect whether they encourage their children to enlist”. The Biden administration claims that it needs to racially discriminate for national security, but its racism harms national security.
The Supreme Court needs to have the courage to do to systemic racism in the military what it did to systemic racism in civilian higher education. A nation, a society and a system cannot endure half-slave and half-free, half-racist and half-equal. It’s time to end military racism.