SCOTUS: Virginia school accused of Asian discrimination can keep policy for now

(The Center Square) – A Virginia-based charter school that has been accused of having an admissions policy that discriminates against Asians can continue its policy as it awaits a decision from an appellate court, per a decision from the United States Supreme Court.

A parent group called Coalition for TJ sued the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology over its new admissions policy. After the Virginia Department of Education directed governor’s schools to find ways in which they could increase diversity, the high school set a cap on how many students could be accepted into the high school from each of the district’s 23 middle schools and ended its standardized testing requirement.

Before this policy, most of the students came from three middle schools that have a high Asian population.

According to the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is representing Coalition for TJ, the policy will likely decrease the number of Asian students for the class of 2025 by about 42%. They said that white students will benefit most from the policy.

Coalition for TJ petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the policy as it awaits a decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, but that motion was denied on a 6-3 decision. The three judges who unsuccessfully sought to grant the petition were Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch.

“We are disappointed by today’s decision,” Erin Wilcox, a PLF attorney representing Coalition for TJ, said in a statement. “Government cannot choose who receives the opportunity to attend public schools based on race or ethnicity. We will continue to fight in the courts to end TJ’s discriminatory admissions policy for good.”

Thomas Jefferson High School is based in Fairfax County, and the county’s public school system has defended the policy as race-blind and fair. Fairfax County School Board Chair Stella Pekarsky said she believes the appellate court will rule in their favor.

“We continue to believe our new plan for TJ admissions is merit-based and race-blind,” Pekarsky said in a statement. “We are confident that after considering the facts and the law, the appeals court will decide that our plan meets all the legal requirements and guarantees every qualified student will have the chance of being admitted to the finest public science and technology high school in the country.”

Asian and white students across the country have filed lawsuits against various colleges and universities, claiming that they have been denied acceptance because of admissions policies that seek to increase diversity at the expense of a merit-based admissions system.