A federal district court upheld the University of North Carolina‘s admissions policies Monday, ruling they did not discriminate against White and Asian-American applicants.
The ruling came in a lawsuit filed against UNC by Students for Fair Admissions, a conservative group that is also a plaintiff in other admissions lawsuits that have drawn attention.
The group vowed to appeal Monday’s decision to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, SFFA President Edward Blum said.
SFFA has mounted a legal challenge against admissions policies at some of America’s top universities, thus far without success. The group’s core policy is that race should play no role in admissions.
That’s a position shared by an overwhelming majority of Americans, according to polls. When the Pew Research Center asked about it in 2019, 73% said neither race nor ethnicity should be a factor in college admissions, while only 7% said it should be a “major factor.”
SFFA represented Abigail Fisher in her lawsuit against the University of Texas, which went to the Supreme Court and ended with former Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the swing vote for a decision that maintained race and ethnicity as one factor admissions officers could consider.
Since then, SFFA unsuccessfully sued Harvard University on behalf of Asian-Americans, who contend they are harshly discriminated against in admissions at elite colleges. In that case, documents showed Harvard admissions officers consistently rated Asian-American applicants, who generally had the highest test scores, below average in intangible categories such as charisma and leadership.
Both the district court and the First Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Harvard, and SFFA‘s appeal to the Supreme Court is pending.
The suit against UNC was filed in 2014, and the trial ended eleven months ago.
In her decision, U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs found UNC had narrowly tailored its use of race as a factor, as required in the Supreme Court ruling on the Texas case. UNC also made a “good-faith” effort to consider race-neutral alternatives, Ms. Biggs wrote.
The university has a tarnished history in terms of discriminating against Blacks and has not yet achieved the level of diversity school administrators said is desirable and in line with its mission statement.
UNC had no immediate comment Monday to the ruling.
Mr. Blum expressed disappointment, however, and vowed to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
“We believe that the documents, emails, data-analysis and dispositions SFFA presented at trial compellingly revealed UNC’s systematic discrimination against non-minority applicants,” he said.
• James Varney can be reached at email@example.com.
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