In commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the desegregation of the U.S. military, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies is criticizing the “double standard” of the Supreme Court’s exemption for military academies in its Affirmative Action decision.
The exemption – carved out in a footnote in Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion – entails that military service academies can employ affirmative action and race-conscious admissions policies.
"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," Roberts wrote. "The opinion also does not address the issue, in light of the potentially distinct interests that military academies may present."
The carve-out is unexplained and indicates that the Court has a narrow view on the kind of educational and career opportunities that should be available to Black and Brown students, FPWA CEO Jennifer Jones Austin said in a statement.
“It allows military recruiters to continue to prey on vulnerable low-income students of color by presenting a military career as one of the surest ways to exit cycles of poverty,” Jones Austin said. “Despite serving at higher rates, Black recruits face rampant discrimination, racism, and disproportionate punishment.”
Black students are 1.5 times less likely to graduate from college than white peers, according to the FPWA. And those that graduate make 20% less per year and owe an average $25,000 more in debt than white graduates. One in three Black children live in poverty, compared to less than 1 in 10 white children, Jones Austin said in a TruthOut article.
“We must ensure Black children have access to other means of education and employment,” Jones Austin said. “This is a racial and economic justice issue that warrants immediate attention and action. FPWA will continue to fight the structural barriers that have maintained the disenfranchisement of Black and Brown Americans for over 400 years.”