US Supreme Court temporarily approves Virginia highschool admission policy
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US Supreme Court temporarily approves Virginia highschool admission policy

The Supreme Court Monday rejected a request to temporarily block a new admissions policy at a Virginia high school. The new admission policy, as described by the school board, was created to increase socioeconomic diversity, however, the plaintiff argues that the new policy harms Asian students.

The court did not state their reasoning for rejecting the request but Justices Thomas, Justice Alito, and Justice Gorsuch noted they did not agree with the decision.

This case is brought because the Coalition of TJ  because under the new admission policy the Asian student population dropped from 70 percent to about 55 percent.

The school board in the fall of 2020 enacted a  “holistic” policy for the admissions process at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ), which was enacted to help with the lack of diversity the school is known for. Under the new policy, each middle school that feeds into TJ would have a spot saved for 1.5 percent of that middle school’s eighth-grade population, however, a student applying must meet the other requirements like course prerequisites and GPA.

Under the new policy, the school saw its Hispanic student population rise to 11 percent and the Black student population rise to 7 percent, both demographic groups originally were 1 percent and 5 percent. 

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia held that the new admissions policy “treats applicants unequally in hopes of engineering a particular racial outcome” and granted the coalition’s motion for summary judgment.

The school board asked The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to allow the policy to remain in place while litigation is still going on to finish reviewing applications, to which the Court agreed. The 4th Circuit granted the stay to remain in place for the incoming fall class.

 Judge Heytens for the 4th Circuit wrote that:

The race neutral policy challenged here includes no racial quotas or targets, and the Coalition appears to have identified no evidence that TJ’s current race neutral policy is intended to achieve a certain percentage of Black, Hispanic, or Asian American students.

In response Virginia Attorney General Jason S. Miyares, who joined the case for the coalition argued in his brief to the Supreme Court:

Though facially race-neutral, the new policy targeted Asian-American applicants with surgical precision the proportion of Asian-American applicants extended offers for the class of 2025 dropped 19% from the previous year, while offers extended to students of every other racial group increased.

The Supreme Court will hear this case next term when it hears the case regarding Harvard’s admission policy that harmed Asian American applicants. The court has also agreed to hear a case regarding the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.