By Buddy Blouin
Affirmative action in the military helps marginalized groups receive not only opportunities to join but the chance to thrive and earn equity within the American Armed Forces. It’s a practice that dates back to the mid-late 1800s as part of the Reconstruction Era and continues to afford a wide variety of groups chances that may not otherwise be available. On October 31, 2022, while much of the world will be picking out costumes and making plans for Halloween, there's much concern as it’s expected that the Supreme Court will overturn the legal basis that allows affirmative action to exist in the workplace.

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Is There Affirmative Action in the Military?

Yes, each branch of the U.S. military is required by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to uphold and review affirmative action policies. In addition, each branch is also required to complete an annual Military Equal Opportunity Assessment (MEOA). It can be easy to forget, but the U.S. military is a workplace. While affirmative action in the military doesn’t require hiring or employment quotas, it does require transparency and the establishment of an inclusive culture. The goal of the DoD is to create a military that's open to a diverse pool of applicants, which also represents the diversity found within America as a country. As Supreme Court justices take aim at race-conscious college admissions in affirmative action cases, such verdicts will be far-reaching, including for the U.S. military. Ending affirmative action is on the table because of possible rejection from one of the most infamous universities in the world and its alleged rejection of Asian American students in favor of other minorities.

Students for Fair Admissions, Harvard, and Allegations

Students for Fair Admissions is an anti-affirmative action group that's working to end affirmative action with allegations being brought against practices conducted by both Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The acceptance rate of non-Asian American students when compared to Asian American students is being brought into question, and if the group successfully proves that affirmative action is unlawful, many protections on college campuses and beyond are in jeopardy. How the decision from the Supreme Court on affirmative action goes is yet another controversial case as of late. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the constitutional right to abortion, mixed reviews from the general public regarding the decision put this new situation in a delicate balance. Regardless of your political or personal stance, the U.S. military isn’t afforded nearly as many opportunities as individuals. The truth is, no matter where the affirmative action college admissions cases go, the U.S. military will be forced to yet again adapt to whatever is found to be lawful.

Affirmative Action, Supreme Court, and Discrimination

At the end of the day, a diverse American Armed Forces is a better one. Beyond the obvious notion of whatever would be fair, bringing together groups of different creeds and backgrounds to fight for the same cause helps America continue to lead the world. There are studies that point to the fact that Veterans are more likely to accept people of different backgrounds, races, and creeds because of their military service as compared to civilian populations. Where we go from here is a bit uncertain, and no policy is perfect, but affirmative action in the military helps us excel on and off the battlefield. Now, we'll just have to wait and see what the Supreme Court decides.

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