ATLANTA The University of Georgia Board of Regents has decided not to appeal a court ruling declaring the University of Georgia”s race-conscious admissions policy unconstitutional to the U.S. Supreme Court, increasing the likelihood that similar lawsuits against the University of Michigan will determine the future of affirmative action in higher education.

The case had been seen as a potential vehicle for a Supreme Court ruling on race-based admissions, but university President Michael Adams said similar admissions cases in other states may fare better. “We understand the legal posture and reasons for not going forward to the Supreme Court with this case,” he said Friday. “But this in no way means that the University of Georgia”s commitment to achieving diversity has lessened one iota.”

Ted Shaw of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense Fund said “there is nothing to be gained by appealing this case.”

Under a 1978 Supreme Court ruling, universities may not use racial quotas, but may consider race as a factor when selecting students. Lower courts have interpreted that ruling differently.

Shaw said the issue will likely be determined by the University of Michigan cases pending before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. Those lawsuits challenge admissions policies at the University of Michigan Law School and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.

Liz Barry, deputy general counsel for the University of Michigan, said she does not believe the decision in Atlanta will have any bearing on the Dec. 6 hearing before the appeals court.

“This decision has no direct effect on our case in any sort of practical way, because it”s a different circuit and it was just a decision not to appeal,” she said.

“Winning in the 6th Circuit is where we”ll keep our intent and focus.”

Elsewhere, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has sided with an experimental elementary school run by the University of California that considered race, while a 5th Circuit ruling led to an injunction banning Texas universities from using race as a factor.

In the Georgia case, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August that the admissions policy, which awarded race-based points to borderline students, violated the Constitution”s equal-protection clause. The decision upheld a ruling in favor of three white women who were denied admission in 1999.

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