Supreme Court backs admissions policy at Virginia high school 

When the policy was implemented four years ago, the school’s Asian American representation decreased, while Black and Hispanic students gained ground.

The Supreme Court has upheld the admissions policy at an elite public high school in Virginia.

The policy was under fire for discriminating against Asian Americans. 


The backstory: Tuesday’s decision by the Supreme Court upheld an earlier decision from a federal appeals court regarding the admissions policy at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. 

  • The admissions process was overhauled in 2020, eliminating a standardized test and giving weight to economically disadvantaged or English-learning applicants.
  • That resulted in an increase in Black and Hispanic representation, while Asian American representation decreased.

Driving the news: Asian American applicants argued that the policy discriminates against them, as academic merit should be the sole criteria for admission.

  • The Fairfax County School Board defended the new admissions process, stating that it provides a fair opportunity for all qualified students.
  • In 2022, a federal judge found the admissions policy to be impermissible “racial balancing,” but the ruling was reversed by the appeals court.
  • Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas dissented from the Supreme Court’s decision, believing that the policy allows for constitutional racial discrimination.
  • The case highlights ongoing legal challenges regarding race-based admissions policies in K-12 education.
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