Atlanta A federal appeals court ruled Monday that a University of Georgia affirmative action policy is unconstitutional because it arbitrarily gave nonwhite applicants a statistical boost.
The three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's ruling in favor of three white women who were denied admission in 1999.
The appeals court said the policy, which awarded race-based points to borderline students, violated the Constitution's equal-protection clause.
"UGA's policy is not only rigid and incomplete, the benefit it awards each and every nonwhite applicant is wholly, and concededly, arbitrary," the court said. "If a university cannot even articulate a basis for the amount of the numerical bonus it awards nonwhite candidates, then it has no right to award such a bonus."
The university suspended the consideration of race last year while it awaited the court's decision. The school could appeal Monday's ruling to the full appeals court or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The University of Georgia had argued that campus diversity is a compelling state interest and that the policy helps remedy a long history of discrimination. No black students were allowed at Georgia until 1961.