Jim Banks To Grill Military Academy Heads On Race-Based Admissions

(Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
Font Size:

House lawmakers plan to grill leaders of the military service academies on their use of race-based admissions at a hearing scheduled for July 19 after a Supreme Court ruling overturning affirmative action did not confirm whether service academies could be exempt.

The Supreme Court ruled on June 29 that universities’ affirmative action policies violated the Constitution’s guarantees of equal treatment for all races, but left open a question of addressing racial preference in military service academies’ admissions decisions, according to the opinion. Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, who chairs the Military Personnel Subcommittee on the House’s armed services panel, will lead the probe next week into how U.S. military academies’ prioritize attracting and admitting future officers of minority races or ethnicities.

“Colorblindness and consistent standards are very important in universities, but in our officer corps they’re life and death issues,” Banks told the Daily Caller News Foundation. (RELATED: More Black Americans Support SCOTUS’ Affirmative Action Ruling Than Oppose It: POLL)

Members of the panel will also grill witnesses from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy and the Air Force Academy on topics including curriculum development and diversity of thought, according to the committee website.

“Every American should be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin and race-based preferences don’t belong in schools, the military, or anywhere else in America. The Supreme Court issued the right ruling, but it should have applied to service academies too,” Banks told the DCNF.

The Supreme Court did not affirm service academies’ race-preferential admissions policies or say that the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause does not apply to the military, experts previously told the DCNF. Rather, because the Department of Defense was not included in the litigation and may hold “potentially distinct interests,” the court did not apply the ruling to service academies, the opinion says.

“The question is not whether the Equal Protection Clause applies to admissions policies at the [service academies], but how do the uniquely military interests involved influence the application of the [Equal Protection] Clause in that setting?” retired law professor and Army Col. William Woodruff explained to the DCNF. “Constitutional rights apply in the military.”

Pentagon officials have long said that they seek a total force that reflects the demographics of the American public. Efforts to increase diversity have highlighted the officer corps, where the relative proportion of racial and ethnic minorities tends to be smaller than among the enlisted ranks.

Over 75% of active duty officers are white, according to the latest DOD demographic data. “Black and African American” individuals make up 19% of the enlisted active duty force, compared with 9% of officers.

To meet those goals, the military academies have practiced affirmative action in admissions for decades, according to The New York Times.

Banks also sponsored an amendment to the annual defense policy bill banning discrimination or race-based quotas in admissions, but as of posting time it was unclear whether the amendment will see a vote.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact