SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court asking the Court to hear the case Coalition for TJ (Thomas Jefferson) v. Fairfax County School Board. The coalition of states, led by the State of Virginia, supports the petitioner, a coalition of parents, in a case involving a racially discriminatory admissions policy orchestrated by the Fairfax County, Virginia School Board.
In 2020, the Fairfax County School Board instituted new admissions policies at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) to change “the racial makeup of TJ.” These actions had a negative impact on the number of Asian-Americans who were approved for admission to the school, leading to parents forming a coalition and filing suit against the county school board. The coalition won its case at the district level but lost at the Fourth Circuit mere weeks before the nation’s high court issued its landmark ruling in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard, overturning racial preferences in public and higher education. The parents are now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
The States argue that the “Fourth Circuit’s decision is contrary to SFFA and raises critically important questions” and that the “Board’s admissions policy subjects Asian-American students to unconstitutional racial discrimination.”
As the attorneys general write in their brief:
Such a system strikes ‘at the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection,’ which ‘command[s] that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial … class.’ And under the Fourth Circuit’s ruling, schools could try to reimpose the pre-SFFA regime by maintaining the success rate for applicants of certain ‘underrepresented’ racial groups at the school’s preferred levels – just so long as the policy has a facially neutral veneer and so long as offers are extended to disfavored racial groups at no less a rate than their share of the candidate pool.
Joining Utah and Virginia were the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.