Board of Regents Promises ‘Vigorous’ Appeal of Court’s Decision
U.S. District Court’s Decision Bars Use of Race in Admissions at UGA
Atlanta — August 15, 2000
The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia will pursue an “extremely vigorous” legal appeal regarding the right of the University of Georgia (UGA) to use race as an admissions criterion. The appeal arises from a United States District Court July 24 ruling in a lawsuit filed against UGA and the regents. University System officials announced today (Aug. 15) they will urge the Georgia Attorney General’s Office to file for an expedited appeal to the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit (Johnson/Bogrow vs. Board of Regents) challenged UGA’s use of race-based admissions’ criteria. Although the first 85-90 percent of students were admitted to UGA solely on academic consideration, plaintiffs objected to the process for the relatively small remaining pool of candidates, in which race was one of 12 factors considered. The University of Georgia’s admissions process was patterned after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the 1978 landmark case, Regents of the University of California vs. Bakke. The U.S. District Court recently held that Bakke was not “controlling precedent” and that UGA’s use of race for admissions purposes was unconstitutional.
“The debate on the use of affirmative action in promoting diversity on the nation’s college campuses for educational purposes has reached the critical point where a clear-cut decision must be reached,” said University System of Georgia Chancellor Stephen R. Portch. “The University System of Georgia and other universities throughout the nation face continuing litigation on this issue. We are willing to assume a leadership role if it will help resolve this issue definitively. It is in the interest of the state, the nation and the academic community.”
Board of Regents Chairman Glenn S. White said the regents consider the issues raised in the case important enough to support the appeal process. “We respectfully disagree with the district court’s ruling,” White stated. “We are prepared to take any and all steps necessary to resolve this matter. We are truly committed to ensuring all Georgians have full access to educational opportunity; we can do no less.”
Chancellor Portch noted that while the appeals process is being pursued, UGA has decided that it will not continue its use of race as a factor in the admissions process. “I agree with UGA’s decision to suspend that part of its admissions process that the court has ruled to be unconstitutional,” Portch said. “To do otherwise now, simply invites an injunction and an endless stream of additional lawsuits.”
Chairman White emphasized the board’s firm stance on this issue. “While this case is on appeal, the board’s Organization and Law Committee, chaired by Regent Juanita Powell Baranco, will seek – with UGA – bold and innovative ways to provide access to all qualified Georgians.”