Federal court rules against UM aid plan Program to help blacks jeopardized by decision

April 18, 1992|By Lyle Denniston | Lyle Denniston,Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- A federal appeals court has voted 10-2 to leave intact a recent ruling that threatens the future of a blacks-only scholarship program at the University of Maryland in College Park.

The full bench of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned down a plea by the university to reconsider a February decision by a three-judge panel of that court.

As is customary, the court gave no explanation for its new action, taken on Wednesday and made public here yesterday.

The three-judge panel had ruled that a federal judge in Baltimore should strike down the Benjamin Banneker Scholarship Program unless the university shows that racial discrimination still exists at the university's main campus.

That decision is now final, leaving the university with two options for possibly rescuing the program: appealing the case to the Supreme Court or assembling new data to put before U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz of Baltimore.

Kathryn Costello, a university vice president, said attorneys were pondering those options. "There are a lot of factors to weigh," she said.

The blacks-only scholarship program, Ms. Costello said, is "extremely important," and the university is "enormously concerned" about the threat to it.

The scholarships, given to at least 20 students a year, are worth some $33,500 over a student's four undergraduate years.

A sophomore at the university, Daniel J. Podberesky, who is part Hispanic, challenged the constitutionality of the program after he was turned down when he sought the aid.

Judge Motz upheld the program last year, but Mr. Podberesky then succeeded with the appeals court in Richmond, Va.

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