Melissa Harris-Perry discusses affirmative action. (MSNBC)

During her MSNBC show on Saturday, Melissa Harris-Perry read a letter that urges Chief Justice John Roberts to do the right thing, as the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the University of Texas affirmative action case, which challenges the practice of including a race-based factor in the college admission process. She says that any ruling in the case could have widespread repercussions beyond academia, especially in the military.

According to their brief, between 1967 and 1991, as a result of an aggressive policy of affirmative action, the Pentagon nearly quadrupled minority representation among its commissioned officers. Compared to the private sector where less than 2% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are African American, the U.S. Army can boast that 8% of active duty officers are black. But the success of military affirmative action isn’t just cosmetic. It is critical. Mission-critical.

The brief points out that any ruling in the University of Texas case could have an impact beyond academia–and that without affirmative action–the military could struggle to develop a diverse officer corps, saying "a highly qualified and racially diverse officer corps is not a lofty ideal. It is a mission-critical national security interest." Mr. Chief Justice, 27 United States military generals and admirals are trying to tell you something essential about affirmative action–it makes us safer.

And one of the keys to a diverse military leadership? The college ROTC programs, including the one at the University of Texas, where the military turns to find future officers. Now I may have my criticisms of campus based ROTC programs, but if we are going to draw our officer corps from our colleges, then we have to make sure our colleges look like our country.

Read more at MSNBC.