Supreme Court Backs Virginia Magnet School's Admissions Process Despite Conservative Justices' Dissent

The Supreme Court has opted to uphold a contentious admissions process at a Virginia magnet school, despite the dissent of its two most conservative justices. The Washington Post writes that the exclusive Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology attempted to increase diversity in 2020 by using what experts refer to as "race-neutral" variables, but the court refused to reconsider the school's policy.

The Fairfax County School Board eliminated the use of standardized testing in favor of considering variables such as a student's economic status, English language proficiency, or attendance in a "historically underrepresented" school.

Additionally, the board decided to give preference to the best kids from each public middle school in the district rather than the best students overall. However, according to the New York Times, admissions personnel were not informed of the identity, gender, or color of any student. The number of Black students increased from 1% to 7% and the percentage of Hispanic students increased from 3% to 11% in the first freshman class accepted after the implementation of the policy, according to the AP.

However, the proportion of Asian American pupils dropped from 73% to 54%, and a group of parents filed a lawsuit, claiming that the new policy was discriminatory. In May of last year, an appeals court overturned a district court judge's 2022 declaration that the procedure was "patently illegal."

Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas disagreed with the decision to uphold the program. According to Alito, "intentional racial discrimination is lawful so long as it is not too severe," after the appellate court's "aberrant" ruling.

According to the Post, he said that the Virginia school policy may serve as a guide for educational institutions attempting to circumvent the court's decision last year prohibiting affirmative action. Karl Frisch, the head of the school board, praised the ruling. He said, "We have always maintained that the new admissions procedure is in the best interest of all of our students as well as constitutional."


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