SCOTUS Declines High School Affirmative Action Case; Alito, Thomas Issue Scorching Dissent

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court declined to review a 4th Circuit ruling regarding racial discrimination in high school admissions. Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas issued a dissent that can be described as "fiery."


Two of the Supreme Court’s conservative justices issued a fiery dissent Tuesday after the high court declined to hear a case challenging a Virginia high school’s admissions program that allegedly discriminates against Asian Americans. 

A coalition of parents of students at Thomas Jefferson High School, the nation’s top-ranked high school, appealed to the Supreme Court claiming that the Ivy League feeder imposes a roundabout way of filtering for race in admissions that they say violates the Supreme Court's June 2023 ruling on affirmative action in college admissions. That case decided that the use of race as a factor in college admissions is a violation of the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

Justices Samuel Alito, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, dissented from the court’s denial on Tuesday, calling the lower court’s decision in the case "patently incorrect and dangerous."

"What the Fourth Circuit majority held, in essence, is that intentional racial discrimination is constitutional so long as it is not too severe. This reasoning is indefensible, and it cries out for correction," Alito said in his 10-page dissent.

Principles, again: If discriminating based on race is wrong, then it is wrong in every case, no matter who is being advantaged or disadvantaged, no matter what opportunity, service, or anything else is being unfairly granted or denied. In the Fourth Circuit case, this has to do what what appears to be an affirmative-action workaround by a Fairfax County, Virginia school, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria. 


The Fairfax County School Board has attempted to address racial disparities among the student body, particularly the low numbers of Black and Hispanic students. While the school does not expressly filter for race, it instead implemented geographic quotas, guaranteeing admission to the top students of each middle school in the county. The school also factored income into the equation.

However, a parents group called the Coalition for TJ, represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, filed a lawsuit claiming the practice was unconstitutional and discriminated against Asian American students.

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The Pacific Legal Foundation weighed in on the principle involved and hit the nail squarely on the head:

Pacific Legal Foundation senior attorney Joshua Thompson said that "the Supreme Court missed an important opportunity to end race-based discrimination in K-12 admissions." 

"Discrimination against students based on their race is not only ethically wrong but also a clear violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Schools should evaluate students as individuals, not as groups based on racial identity," he said.


This is what happens when politics take precedence over principles. In principle, discrimination is always wrong; in the political world, apparently, racial discrimination is OK if it discriminates against high-achievers and in favor of lower achievers.

Discrimination based on race is wrong. It's wrong in every case. It's disappointing in the extreme that the Supreme Court not only declined to review this case but did not give this discriminatory policy the smack-down that it richly deserves.

More from Thomas Jefferson High School:

'This Is Not America': VA Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears Shreds School That Hid Awards From Students in the Name of 'Equity'


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