AUSTIN, TX — Texas Attorney General Paxton filed a Virginia-led amicus brief with the Richmond, Virginia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in support of race-neutral, meritocratic public-school admissions criteria.
One Virginia school district sought to “redefine merit” in order to reduce Asian-American enrollment and increase other favored racial minorities. The district’s goal was to move away from “equality” and toward racial “equity.” The district was sued and lost. It is now appealing, and Texas, led by Paxton, and other states argue that the lower court’s ruling should be affirmed.
“The Supreme Court has ‘many times over’ reaffirmed that ‘racial balance is not to be achieved for its own sake,’” the brief reads. “Racial balancing is contrary to the Supreme Court’s ‘repeated recognition that at the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial . . . class.’”
An amicus briefing is an argument filed by an entity — in legal terms called an amicus curiae or ‘friend of the court’ — who is not a party in the court case but has reason to believe the filing entity can offer insight , expertise, or information that will assist the court in making a just decision.
The case was summarized in Paxton’s court filing:
In Richmond, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) is one of the crown jewels of Virginia’s publiceducation system. So say it is one of the best public high schools in the country. It achieved its excellence in part through a highly competitive, meritocratic admissions process. But, in response to exogenous political events, Appellant Fairfax County School Board set out to “remake” admissions at TJ because the Board was “dissatisfied with the racial composition of the school.”
To accomplish its “goal of achieving racial balance,” the Board replaced its race neutral and meritocratic admissions policy with a new one intentionally designed to decrease Asian American enrollment.
As some members of the Board put it, the goal was “to increas[e] diversity through redefining merit,” and in doing so to move "towards greater equity to be clearly distinguished from equality."
The district court ruled that an admissions policy crafted in opposition to equality was unconstitutional. Texas AG Paxton filed the briefing to urge the appeals court to uphold the district court's decision.