Supreme Court Turns Down Virginia Affirmative Action Case

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Clarence Thomas - U.S. Supreme Court - Washington D.C.

The Supreme Court is avoiding discourse over admissions policies intended to enhance the diversity of enrolled students, having turned down another case on the matter, this time involving a prestigious public high school in Virginia. 

The move is the latest by the Supreme Court related to its landmark ruling on affirmative action, which ended the consideration of race in admissions. Since that decision, the high court was asked to temporarily ban the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from considering race in admissions, but declined to review the case earlier this month.

The Tuesday decision by the high court to not take up the appeal – led by a group of parents challenging an admissions policy implemented in 2021 at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology – leaves intact a lower court decision and the high school’s new race-neutral admissions policies. 

Previously, an appeals court concluded that the goal of the program is to foster student diversity, though the parents behind the case argue it discriminates against Asian-American students. 

Thomas Jefferson High School’s new policy removes entrance exams and guarantees places for top students from various middle schools across the county. Further spots are awarded based on performance and socioeconomic factors. 

Since its execution, the percentage of Asian-American students receiving admission went down from 73% to 54% while all other racial groups saw an increase — White students grew to 22% from 18%; the number of Black students grew to 8% from close to 2%; and the percentage of Hispanic students grew to 11% from 3%.

No reason was given by the Supreme Court justices who turned down the case, however, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from the decision.

In a dissenting opinion by Alito, joined by Thomas, he expressed that the high school’s admissions policy, “has been trumpeted to potential replicators as a blueprint for evading [the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action].”