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Friday, September 29, 2023

Supreme Court must end divisive practice that is tearing schools apart

The Supreme Court, citing the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, has “repeatedly condemned” racial balancing – a policy focused on racial proportionality by aligning the composition of a school’s student population with the school district’s racial demographics – as “illegitimate” and “patently unconstitutional,” and “racial classifications” as “pernicious.”  

Yet, school boards like those in Philadelphia and Fairfax, Virginia, have replaced merit-based admissions to elite academic high schools with policies intended to achieve racial diversity in the classroom through racial balancing of the student body. 

These polices to promote certain races (usually Black and Hispanic) must discriminate against others (usually Asian Americans).

Supreme Court outside view

It is time for the Supreme Court to end the constitutional hypocrisy that permits discriminatory diversity admissions policies. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The problem in the minds of these school boards is that the student populations do not align with the local racial demographics and, in their view, too many high-achieving Asian Americans are earning admission. Their solution: contrived admissions policies that at their core discriminate based on race and are antithetical to the constitutional principle of equality.

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Prior to 2020, admission to TJ, generally regarded as the premier science and tech high school in the country, was based on a highly competitive, merit-based, multi-step process that included multiple standardized tests. In 2020, the school board radically altered this process. It implemented a “holistic review” that eliminated any required testing, and allocated the student slots on a quota basis to each of the schools in TJ’s district, regardless of the relative academic merit of the applicants overall. 

The 4th Circuit determined that the new TJ admissions policy did not constitute unconstitutional racial balancing of the student body nor, it concluded, was there evidence of any race-based discriminatory intent against Asian American applicants. In the circuit court’s disoriented view, the school board was simply focused on the goal of “fostering diversity” without any specific racial motivations.

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The circuit court’s misguided decision to endorse this new policy is plainly contrary to the overwhelming evidence of race-based discrimination. As highlighted by Judge Allison Jones Rushing’s dissenting opinion, the “undisputed contemporaneous evidence” “leaves no doubt about the board’s discriminatory purpose,” its intention to alter the “racial composition of the student of body to reflect the racial demographics of the district,” and that the school board, using student demographic data, “successfully engineered” the policy to target Asian American student enrollment at TJ. 

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Soon the Supreme Court will be issuing its decisions in the Harvard and UNC cases on whether race can be considered in college admissions and whether Harvard’s admission policy discriminates against Asian American applicants. 

It is time for the Supreme Court to end the constitutional hypocrisy that permits discriminatory diversity admissions policies. As seen in the Harvard, UNC and Coalition for TJ cases, “diversity” has become the Trojan horse of racism invading college and high school admission offices.

Brown v. Board of Education set the standard that a student has a right to school admission “on a nondiscriminatory” and “nonracial basis” as it ended the malicious practice of racial segregation of schools. There is no exception to this fundamental constitutional principle for the diversity mantra of identity politics. 


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