The Supreme Court is being asked to give its opinion in another case surrounding race-based admissions that a school is alleging using.
On Monday, the libertarian legal group The Pacific Legal Foundation petitioned the high court to overturn a ruling from a lower court that determined that the admission policies a prestigious high school in Virginia is using were not biased based on race.
In the wake of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, which is located in Alexandria, Virginia, overhauled the admissions standards it uses.
One of the policies that the school enacted was removing the usage of entry tests that were standardized, as well as allocating admissions evenly from the feeder schools into the system. This was done in place of just taking all of the applicants who ranked at the top from the whole district.
As a result of these changes, student enrollment among Asian Americans dropped from 73% all the way down to 54% for the first year that the changes went into effect. At the same time, representation among black and Hispanic students grew at an exponential rate.
As The Pacific Legal Foundation states, this issue needs to be addressed by the high court immediately. Its court filing in the case reads:
“The longer this question is not resolved, the more incentive school districts (and now universities) will have to develop workarounds that enable them to racially discriminate without using racial classifications.”
It further states that the high school’s new policies were “intentionally designed to achieve the same results as overt racial discrimination.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled back in May that the Virginia high school’s admissions policies were permissible under the Constitution. The case originally was brought forward by a local group called Coalition for TJ, which represents concerned members of the community and parents.
The appeals court’s ruling overturned a decision by an Alexandria Federal District Court ruling that originally found the rules were “racially motivated,” discriminated against Asian-American students and were “infected with talk of racial balancing from its inception.”
The issue of race-based admissions at schools was brought front and center just a few months ago, when the Supreme Court overturned the usage of affirmative action by colleges and universities in their admissions processes. That was in response to a case brought against the University of North Carolina and Harvard University.
In the majority opinion of that case, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote:
“The Harvard and UNC admissions programs cannot be reconciled with the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause. Both programs lack sufficiently focused and measurable objectives warranting the use of race, unavoidably employ race in a negative manner, involve racial stereotyping, and lack meaningful end points.
“We have never permitted admissions programs to work in that way, and we will not do so today.”
Because of that opinion, The Pacific Legal Foundation is hoping that the Supreme Court will take up its case and ultimately rule in a similar fashion.