Johnson v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, 106 F. Supp. 2d 1362 (S.D. Ga. 2000)

In yet another case challenging affirmative action in admissions, three rejected white female applicants for admission to the University of Georgia sued the state seeking admission and damages based on violations of the Civil Rights Act.

In July 2000 the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia held that the University's admissions policy was unconstitutional. The court found that under the equal protection doctrine diversity does not rise to the level of a compelling government interest because 1) there is no evidence that significant educational benefits are derived from racial and gender diversity, 2) there is no "principled stopping point" for taking race into account, and 3) the argued compelling interest is based on stereotypes because it assumes that race and/or gender are a proxy for viewpoint or experience.

As in the Michigan case, AAUP joined an amicus brief to the Eleventh Circuit with the American Council on Education and many other higher education organizations emphasizing the educational benefits of diversity.

Status: In August 2001 the Eleventh Circuit issued a decision upholding district court decision, although for slightly different reasons. The decision is available at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/cgi-bin/getcase.pl?court=11th&navby=case&no=0014340OPN. The court noted that to pass constitutional muster an affirmative action program must present both a compelling state interest and be narrowly tailored to meet that interest. The court then went on to conclude that it did not need to decide whether student body diversity was a compelling interest sufficient to justify race-based admissions programs in this case, because even assuming such diversity was a compelling interest, it found the UGA policy not sufficiently narrowly tailored to meet that interest. The university decided not to seek review of this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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