UNITED STATES NEWS

Virginia high school admissions case could be legal follow-up to affirmative action ruling

Jun 30, 2023, 11:16 AM | Updated: 11:58 am

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — A federal appeals court’s ruling last month about the admissions policy at an elite public high school in Virginia may provide a vehicle for the U.S. Supreme Court to flesh out the intended scope of its ruling Thursday banning affirmative action in college admissions.

The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, outside the nation’s capital, routinely ranks as one of the best public schools in America; admission is highly competitive.

A coalition of parents, backed by a conservative legal foundation, filed a lawsuit in 2021 challenging the admissions policy at TJ, and the foundation is asking the Supreme Court to take up the case. The suit raises similar but not identical issues to those addressed by the high court’s ruling rejecting admissions policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina as unconstitutional.

The colleges’ admissions rules took an applicant’s race into account as one of many factors to be considered. In the TJ case, though, all sides agree the admissions polices are race-neutral on their face.

But the coalition that filed the lawsuit says the admissions criteria amount to “race-based proxies” implemented to achieve racial balancing. They say the policy discriminates against Asian Americans, who had constituted 70% of the student body.

The coalition also cites the debate among Fairfax County School Board members when they implemented their new policy in 2020. Board members and administrators expressed frustration that Black and Hispanic students had been woefully underrepresented at TJ for decades. The coalition argues the new policies are intended to boost Black and Hispanic representation at the expense of Asians.

The first freshman class admitted under the new rules saw a significantly different racial makeup. Black students increased from 1% to 7%; Hispanic representation increased from 3% to 11%. Asian American representation decreased from 73% to 54%.

The new policies replaced a standardized test with a process that allocates a percentage of seats on a geographic basis and takes a student’s “experience factors” into account, like whether they come from a low-income household or speak English as a second language.

Last year, a federal judge found the admissions policy unconstitutional, saying “the discussion of admissions changes was infected with talk of racial balancing from its inception.”

But in May, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond reversed that ruling. In a 2-1 decision, the judges said the school board had a legitimate interest in increasing diversity and that labeling those efforts as discrimination against Asian Americans “simply runs counter to common sense.”

The Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the parents claiming anti-Asian discrimination, is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case.

“We think it presents a really strong vehicle and the time is right. And we’re certainly hopeful the court will take it up,” said Joshua Thompson, a senior attorney at the foundation.

Eugene Kontorovich, a law professor at George Mason University, said there will be years of follow-up cases to Thursday’s ruling, as is typical with major Supreme Court cases, as colleges drag their feet and look for ways to salvage policies to which they are ideologically committed.

He was less certain, though, that the TJ case will be significant. He said the debate over the constitutionality of TJ’s policies will be fact-intensive and center on what can be proved about the school board’s motivations in implementing the policy.

More likely, he said, is debate over how colleges use essay questions on topics like diversity to achieve the same results as the now-banned affirmative action programs.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ majority opinion left a little bit of wiggle room on that front when he wrote that colleges can consider an individual’s application essay and “how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration or otherwise.”

But Roberts also noted that colleges “may not simply establish through application essays or other means the regime we hold unlawful today.”

Kontorovich said colleges will ask essay questions about topics like diversity “that will give them the latitude to quietly take race into consideration in ways that will be more subtle.” Ultimately, though, he thinks the court, at least as it’s currently constituted, will reject those sorts of end-around attempts.

Fairfax County Public Schools declined to comment on the Supreme Court ruling.

Thompson said Pacific Legal expects to formally submit its petition to the Supreme Court in August and will likely know by the end of the year whether the case will be heard.

United States News

Associated Press

Medline recalls 1.5 million adult bed rails following 2 reports of entrapment deaths

NEW YORK (AP) — Medical supply company Medline Industries is recalling some 1.5 million portable adult bed rails across the U.S. and Canada, following two reports of entrapment deaths associated with the products. The recall impacts two models of Medline’s “Bed Assist Bars.” According to a Thursday announcement from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, […]

30 minutes ago

Associated Press

South Dakota man arrested and charged in Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota man pushed a police officer during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol and was among those who shoved a large metal “Trump” sign into a police line, the U.S. Department of Justice said. William George Knight, 37, of Rapid City, was arrested by the […]

45 minutes ago

Associated Press

Amazon gets FAA approval that allows it to expand drone deliveries for online orders

Federal regulators have given Amazon key permission that will allow it to expand its drone delivery program, the company announced Thursday. In a blog post posted on its website, Seattle-based Amazon said that the Federal Aviation Administration has given its Prime Air delivery service the OK to operate drones “beyond visual line of sight,” removing […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Police dismantle pro-Palestinian camp at Wayne State University in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — Police broke up a pro-Palestinian encampment Thursday at Wayne State University in Detroit and arrested at least eight people after organizers turned down offers to meet with school officials and refused to leave. President Kimberly Andrews Espy cited health and safety concerns and disruptions to campus operations. Staff were encouraged to work […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

One Tech Tip: Want to turn off Meta AI? You can’t — but there are some workarounds

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — If you use Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram, you’ve probably noticed a new character pop up answering search queries or eagerly offering tidbits of information in your feeds, with varying degrees of accuracy. It’s Meta AI, and it’s here to help, at least according to Meta Platforms’ CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who calls […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

The Latest | Jury in Donald Trump’s criminal trial are set to enter a second day of deliberations

NEW YORK (AP) — Jury deliberations in Donald Trump ‘s criminal hush money trial entered their second day on Thursday after the panel began the weighty task a day before. Deliberations concluded Wednesday with the panel asking Judge Juan M. Merchan to rehear portions of crucial testimony from two key witnesses: former National Enquirer publisher […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

Virginia high school admissions case could be legal follow-up to affirmative action ruling