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Florida Court Rejects NAACP Challenge

Florida Court Rejects NAACP Challenge
To University Admissions

An appeals court has ruled the NAACP does not have standing to challenge rules eliminating racial and gender preferences in university admissions.
Appeals Judge Peter Webster wrote that the civil rights group had failed to show evidence that a student would be “substantially affected” by the implementation of rules for Gov. Jeb Bush’s “One Florida” initiative and his “Talented 20” guarantee. Judge Ricky Polston concurred with the opinion issued in late February.
The case went to the 1st District Court of Appeals after an administrative hearing judge upheld the rules. The appeals court ruling reverses the administrative hearing judge’s decision and returns it with instructions to dismiss the rules challenge.
Lawyers for the NAACP have requested a rehearing.
“We are hopeful that the appeals court will reconsider its ruling … and give the NAACP its day in court,” Mitchell Berger, a lawyer for the NAACP, said last month. “We know other groups are allowed to discuss issues like this one in court.”
One Florida eliminated race as a consideration in college admissions, while the Talented 20 plan guarantees admission to the top 20 percent of each of Florida’s graduating public high school classes. The governor has said the program will increase racial diversity in the state’s universities and colleges.
The now-defunct Board of Regents enacted rules to implement Bush’s plans. Those rules were challenged by the Florida Conferences of Branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Appeals Judge Edwin Browning Jr. dissented, saying the court had ruled in similar cases that “any association whose members would be ‘regulated’ by a proposed rule is ‘alone sufficient to establish that their substantial interests will be affected.’ “
“The majority today promulgates new law in this area that is not only wrong, but, in my judgment, effects a departure from these precedents,” Browning wrote.
The NAACP argued the new rules were a startling change in policy that could be made only by the Legislature — not the governor or an executive agency.
Earlier this month, Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan told Florida’s university presidents the One Florida program is sending them more, better- prepared minority students.
Brogan cited enrollment figures that showed 1,250 more minority students entered Florida universities for the first time last fall than in the previous fall session.
Last year, the number of new minority students increased by 577 students, or 5 percent, over the previous year. But the percentage of Blacks in proportion to all students was down almost half a percent, the first decline in five years. 

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