16 states ask SCOTUS to overturn a Virginia school’s race-based admissions policy

Fox News reports that Jason Miyares, the Republican attorney general of Virginia, is leading an effort that looks to get the U.S. Supreme Court to put a stop to a Virginia high school’s race-based admissions practices. 

The emergency application to the U.S. Supreme Court now has the support of 16 states, including Virginia. The other states who have joined the effort are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and West Virginia.


The case has to do with Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a magnet school located in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Recently, the school has decided to make a significant change to its admissions practices, switching from a merit-based system to one that considers such things as an applicant’s socioeconomic background. The result has been a decrease in the percentage of Asian American students, from 73% to 54%, an increase in the percentage of Black students, from 1% to 7%, and an increase in the percentage of Hispanic students, from 3% to 11%.

A group of parents who are referring to themselves as the Coalition for TJ has filed a lawsuit looking to put an end to this new practice, which they argue is discriminatory. Fairfax County Public Schools, however, have denied this, arguing that their admissions practices are race-neutral.

Procedural history

Early on, the Coalition for TJ obtained a legal victory. In February, district court Judge Claude Hilton found the school’s new admissions practices to be illegal “racial balancing.” Accordingly, he ordered the practices to be stopped.

Fairfax County Public Schools asked Hilton to hold off on implementing his ruling. But, Hilton refused, which caused the school district to file an appeal to the 4th Circuit.

That appeal was granted, which means that, while the matter is being litigated, the school can continue to use its new admissions practices.

The latest

Now, Miyares and the 15 other states have filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to overturn the 4th Circuit’s decision.

Miyares, in a new statement, said:

Right now, there are innocent Virginians unfairly treated and punished not for anything they’ve done, but because of who they are. Thomas Jefferson High School’s new admissions process is state sanctioned bigotry – it’s wrong, and it’s the exact opposite of equality. As Attorney General, I’ll never stop fighting for the equal treatment and protection of all Virginians.

Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has asked Fairfax County Public Schools to respond to the emergency application, but it remains unclear whether the entire court will hear the case.

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