The Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday to strike down affirmative action in college admissions included a provision that military academies are not subject to the ruling. According to Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion, military academies were not involved in the previous cases that led to the Supreme Court hearings.

In a footnote to the opinion, it was stated that the United States, as amicus curiae, argues that race-based admissions programs serve compelling interests at military academies. However, since no military academy was party to these cases and the lower courts did not address the issue of race-based admissions systems in the military academy context, the opinion does not address this issue either due to potentially distinct interests presented by military academies.

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor criticized this exception in her dissent, arguing that it demonstrates the arbitrary nature of the majority opinion. She pointed out that the majority opinion does not dispute that some uses of race in college admissions are constitutionally permissible and that a limited use of race is permissible in some college admissions programs.

Sotomayor’s comment was supported by several liberal members of Congress, including Democratic Rep. Jason Crow, who called it deeply upsetting and outright grotesque. Crow tweeted that the court is implying diversity doesn’t matter, except when it comes to deciding who can fight and die for the country, reinforcing the idea that these communities can sacrifice for America but not fully participate in other aspects of society.

Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy at The Heritage Foundation, expressed disappointment that military academies were exempted from the ruling. He believes that the logic of the opinion should apply to military academies and that equal protection should be applied to all educational institutions, especially military academies. Severino suggested that the court may have left this issue for another day due to convenience and to avoid responding to arguments made in an amicus brief filed by the U.S. government regarding diversity at service academies in Texas.

The Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action in college admissions is historic, as it rejects the use of race as a factor in violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Chief Justice John Roberts argued that universities have wrongly prioritized an individual’s identity based on the color of their skin over their challenges, skills, and lessons learned. Justice Clarence Thomas, who has long called for an end to affirmative action, wrote separately that universities’ admissions policies are race-based preferences aimed at ensuring a specific racial mix in their entering classes.

Justice Sotomayor and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote dissents, with Sotomayor stating that the decision rolls back decades of progress and Jackson calling it a tragedy for everyone.

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