Governance Civil Justice
July 6th, 2022 1 Minute Read Amicus Brief by Ilya Shapiro

Amicus Brief: Coalition for TJ v. Braband, Fairfax County School Board


A group of parents challenged the Fairfax County (Va.) School Board’s revamping of admissions policies at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ”) as racially discriminatory against Asian-American applicants. TJ specializes in advanced math and science education and for years has been ranked the number one public high school in the country. In Fall 2020, the Board voted to overhaul TJ’s admissions process, notably abolishing standardized testing and introducing a rule that approximately 450 seats in each class would go to the top-rated 1.5% students from each county middle school. In allocating the remaining 100 seats, students from underrepresented middle schools would receive an admissions boost. Because Asian-American students are disproportionately concentrated in Fairfax County middle schools that have specialized offerings for gifted children, these changes reduced their numbers significantly. This was not unintentional: deliberations about revamping the admissions procedures were infected with talk of racial balancing from the start. The Coalition for TJ won summary judgment in the district court. The Board has appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. MI filed a brief supporting the challengers, joining the American Civil Rights Project. We argue that the Supreme Court has made clear that race balancing in K–12 schools is unconstitutional and that TJ’s experience after the changes to its admissions policy fails to show educational gains from enhanced race-based “diversity.”



Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow and director of Constitutional Studies at the Manhattan Institute. Follow him on Twitter here


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