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Tue Feb 20, 2024, 03:11 PM Feb 2024

Supreme Court won't review admissions at Va.'s Thomas Jefferson school

Supreme Court won’t review admissions at Va.’s Thomas Jefferson school

By Ann E. Marimow and Karina Elwood
Updated February 20, 2024 at 12:40 p.m. EST | Published February 20, 2024 at 10:10 a.m. EST

Thomas Jefferson High School's admissions policy has been challenged in court for allegedly discriminating against Asian American students. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)


The Supreme Court will not review a challenge to the admissions system for a prestigious Northern Virginia magnet school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which administrators said opened the program to a wider socioeconomic range of students but opponents claimed discriminated against Asian American applicants.

The high court’s decision Tuesday not to take the case drew a sharp dissent from two conservatives — Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas — and follows its ruling last term rejecting race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. That historic decision rolled back decades of precedent and has dramatically changed how the nation’s private and public universities select their students.

The legal battle in Virginia is between a group of parents, called the Coalition for TJ, and the Fairfax County School Board over an admissions policy designed to encourage diversity at the school without explicitly considering race. Thomas Jefferson, often ranked the best high school in the country, changed its admissions process in 2020 in part to boost racial diversity at the school, which had long enrolled single-digit percentages of Black and Hispanic students.

The revised process at TJ, as the school is known locally, used a more holistic review of applicants by considering what admissions experts call “race-neutral” factors, such as what neighborhood a student lives in and their socioeconomic status. The new process also removed a notoriously difficult admissions test and $100 application fee, and reserved a set number of seats for students from each of Fairfax County’s middle schools. Applicants must have an unweighted grade-point average of at least 3.5 while taking higher-level courses, complete a problem-solving essay and submit a “Student Portrait Sheet.”


The Virginia case is Coalition for TJ v. Fairfax County School Board.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.


By Ann Marimow
Ann Marimow covers the Supreme Court for The Washington Post. She joined The Post in 2005, and has spent a decade writing about legal affairs and the federal judiciary. She previously covered state government and politics in California, New Hampshire and Maryland. Twitter https://twitter.com/amarimow

By Karina Elwood
Karina Elwood is a staff writer at The Washington Post covering Virginia schools and education. Twitter https://twitter.com/karina_elwood


Justices decline to intervene in another dispute over race and school admissions

By Amy Howe
on Feb 20, 2024 at 10:48 am

Less than a year after its decision striking down the admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina as unconstitutional on the ground that they explicitly considered an applicant’s race as part of their admissions process, the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to wade into the battle over race in admissions again. The justices rejected a request to weigh in on a challenge to an admissions policy at a prestigious public magnet school in Virginia that does not take race into account directly, but instead considers socioeconomic factors in allocating some of the school’s 550 seats. The challengers, a group of parents and alumni, contended that the policy was created to reduce the number of Asian American students, who had previously received nearly three out of four offers of admission.


In a 10-page opinion, Alito was sharply critical of the 4th Circuit’s decision. He characterized it as holding, “in essence, that intentional racial discrimination is constitutional as long as it is not too severe” because Asian American applicants still were admitted at a rate that exceeded their representation in the applicant pool. But such a rule, Alito suggested, would effectively allow government officials “to discriminate against any racial group with impunity as long as that group continues to perform at a higher rate than other groups” – an “indefensible” position, in Alito’s view.


Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Justices decline to intervene in another dispute over race and school admissions, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 20, 2024, 10:48 AM), https://www.scotusblog.com/2024/02/justices-decline-to-intervene-in-another-dispute-over-race-and-school-admissions/
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Supreme Court won't review admissions at Va.'s Thomas Jefferson school (Original Post) mahatmakanejeeves Feb 2024 OP
I wonder what white right winger funded the appeal? Wonder Why Feb 2024 #1
Earlier posts at DU about TJHSST mahatmakanejeeves Feb 2024 #2

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