Defend American Ideals Supports Meritocracy; Urges Supreme Court to Hear Case RE: Top Virginia High School

Defend American Ideals today joined a broad coalition of organizations to file an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to hear a case on meritocracy and equal protection at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) in Alexandria, Virginia

Ranked no. 1 in Virginia and no. 5 in the nation, TJ underwent a major overhaul of its admissions process in 2020. It introduced nominally “neutral” measures that it deliberately used to engineer a preferred racial makeup of the student body. As a result, the raw number and percentage of Asian Americans admitted were substantially reduced.

TJ’s new admissions criteria are similar to those adopted by a number of elite secondary schools elsewhere in the country—including in New York, Boston, and San Francisco—where objective measures, such as standardized tests, were superseded by more amorphous or “holistic” evaluations, including complex quota schemes that are ostensibly proxies for race.

Though the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has declined to strike down TJ’s admissions changes, the court’s ruling was issued a month before the Supreme Court handed down its June landmark decision holding unconstitutional the racial preferences used by Harvard University in its admissions process. Harvard’s racial preferences also discriminated against applicants of Asian descent.

The Coalition for TJ, a group of parents of TJ students, has now petitioned the Supreme Court to review the Fourth Circuit’s opinion. In its amicus brief today, Defend American Ideals urged the Court to hear the case and to reiterate that educational institutions cannot seek an end run around the recent Harvard decision by using facially race-neutral criteria to engage in racial discrimination.

“We are pleased to join the effort to defend meritocracy at Thomas Jefferson High School,” said Ying Ma, president of Defend American Ideals. “We hope the Supreme Court will hear this case and once again rule in favor of equal protection before the law.”

In addition to Defend American Ideals, eight other organizations from across the country were party to the amicus brief. They are: the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York, the Equal Rights for All PAC, Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education–NYC, Queens Parents United, The ACE Foundation, the Silicon Valley Chinese Association Foundation, the New York Residents Alliance, and the Richmond Jewish Alliance.

To read the amicus brief, please click HERE.