Virginia parent fighting 'race-based' admissions policy wins legal battle as case heads to Supreme Court

Jackson has been a vocal critic of the 'race-based' admissions policy

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A Virginia parent and former PTA president who openly criticized what he categorized as race-based admissions at an elite public high school was delivered a win Friday after four criminal charges were dropped. 

Dr. Harry Jackson, a father and former naval intelligence officer, opposed the policy at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria that based admissions more on race and less on merit. Steve Descano, a Democratic prosecutor backed by billionaire George Soros, pursued criminal charges of libel and slander against Jackson over tweets published in 2020. 

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Jackson, also a professor at numerous other universities and the African American Community Liaison for Fairfax GOP, had accused liberal activist Jorge Torrico of "grooming" behavior. 

Torrico, a member of the TJ Alumni Action Group, which supported the elimination of standardized testing and written teacher recommendation requirements for admission to the magnet school, was spotted speaking with a high school senior and student government president after a PTA meeting. Jackson took issue with Torrico allegedly seeking meetings and other bicyling outings with minors without parents present. 

"Descano acquiesced to the demands of an activist through the criminal prosecution of a father for the duration of 7 months, a father concerned about the safety of underage children. This amounted to the chilling of free speech by a public official," RightDefense.org attorney Marina Medvin, recently retained to represent Jackson, said in a statement to Fox News Digital. 

"What makes this case unique is that criminal charges were brought to suppress free speech -- criminal charges, as opposed to a civil lawsuit. In this day and age, I believe it is the only case of its kind," the attorney said via email Sunday. "Freedom of speech is paramount to our Republic. Both my client and I realize this. We were not willing to show any concessions on this issue. We fought for my client's constitutional rights and the representative constitutional rights of every other individual who might find themselves being criminally prosecuted for voicing an opinion or a concern." 

 Descano aimed at dropping prosecution, but Medvin sought to have the charges dismissed by a Fairfax County judge in order to "restore the public's trust in the First Amendment." 

"This should never have happened. But a magistrate allowed it to happen—four times," Medvin told Newsweek in a separate interview Friday, describing Descano as a "Soros-funded prosecutor." 

The separate but related case involving the school admissions policy, which a federal judge previously ruled as discriminatory against Asian Americans, is also piquing the interest of the Supreme Court. 

This photo shows Fairfax County Public Schools Monday, March 4, 2019, in Merrifield, Va. A federal appeals court has granted a request from a Virginia school system to continue using a challenged admissions policy while it appeals a ruling that found it discriminates against Asian American students. 

This photo shows Fairfax County Public Schools Monday, March 4, 2019, in Merrifield, Va. A federal appeals court has granted a request from a Virginia school system to continue using a challenged admissions policy while it appeals a ruling that found it discriminates against Asian American students.  (AP Photo/Matthew Barakat)

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ruled in February that even the school’s amended admissions policy still equated to "racial balancing," but a three-judge 4th Circuit appeals panel decided on March 31 that the school can temporarily continue to use the policy. A coalition of community members, parents and alumni filed an emergency request to vacate the stay pending an appeal filed by the school system. 

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U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday called for a response from Fairfax County Public Schools, which has until Wednesday to present its arguments. Roberts will then decide on the application, which could include referring the case to the full court, according to Fox 5 DC