States must not abandon long-held practices on affirmative action because of a recent court decision in Texas, the U.S. Education Department (ED) says.
The decision in the 5th circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals affects only Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana — and not other states — according to ED’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). The 5th circuit banned an affirmative action program in college admissions at the University of Texas at Austin in a case known as Hopwood vs. Texas. Texas has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, and while the high court is deciding whether to hear the case, the 5th circuit court issued a stay of its decision. This permits affirmative action programs to continue temporarily.
OCR made its announcement in a letter from Archie B. Meyer, OCR regional director, to Georgia Attorney General Michael Bowers. Meyer sent the letter to express concern that Bowers asked Georgia colleges and universities to follow the directive of the Texas ruling.
Bowers sent a letter to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia asking it to “review its admissions policies and any other policy which might create classifications based upon race.” Bowers’ letter stated that the university should revise these policies because of the Texas decision, Meyer said.
Meyer said colleges and universities outside the 5th circuit still must follow two other judicial rulings: U.S. vs. Fordice and University of California vs. Bakke. The Bakke case says a college “has a First Amendment right to seek diversity in admissions to fulfill its academic mission,” Meyer wrote. The OCR letter also noted that ED has upheld past policies in which colleges and, universities consider race as one of many factors in college admission.
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