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Atlanta Attorney A. Lee Parks Jr. apparently can force the University of Georgia to allow his clients into classes at the school. Still, he can’t get the university to change an admissions policy that includes racial preferences. On March 12, Parks asked a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to give his case the legal standing that might prompt a change in the university’s policy. The policy at issue allows the university to give preference students on the basis of race. Students in at least three separate suits have challenged the university’s policy. But before the cases have gone to trial UGA either has permitted them to transfer from other colleges or has agreed to pay the difference in tuition costs, if higher than UGA’s, elsewhere. As a result, UGA has avoided court rulings on the legality of its admissions process. In the case before the appeals panel, Parks wants to reinstate a suit dismissed by U.S. District Court Judge Avant Edenfield after the plaintiffs, who had claimed they were denied admission because they are white, began attending UGA or enrolled elsewhere. Wooden v. Board of Regents, No. 00-14322 (11th Cir. March 12, 2001). The appeals panel was comprised of Judges Susan H. Black, Stanley Marcus and U.S. Senior District Judge James H. Hancock of Alabama. Edenfield ruled the students could no longer show injury because they were all attending UGA or other colleges of their choice. Therefore, they had no standing to seek the injunctive relief that would force the university to drop racial preferences. Parks called the students’ position “a Catch-22.” Under Edenfield’s ruling, for students to continue to challenge the admissions policy, they would have to choose not to attend college while their case was in litigation. But Senior Assistant Attorney General Alfred L. Evans II, who defended the Georgia Board of Regents, argued that the students must demonstrate imminent injury to pursue the case. “Standing requires injury,” he said. At least one of the students in the suit would not have met UGA’s admissions criteria, even without the racial preferences, Janell Byrd-Chichester argued on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of Branches of the NAACP. “Persons who simply mail in an application to a school that has a race process would all have standing to sue.”

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