Court Denies Ayers Appeal

By  | 

A federal appeals court has rejected objections that would have voided a $503 million settlement of Mississippi's long-running college desegregation case.

Opponents had argued the agreement, which came after nearly 30 years of litigation, was "unconstitutional, unreasonable and unfair'' to the state's three historically black universities.

The three-judge panel of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said Tuesday it has reviewed the objections and "we hold that the district court did not abuse its discretion in approving it.''

The lawsuit originated in 1975 when Jake Ayers sued the state, accusing Mississippi of neglecting its black universities for decades.

U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers signed the settlement of the case in February 2002.

Opponents, including Jake Ayers' widow, Lillie Ayers, then appealed. The lingering litigation has meant the bulk of the settlement money, intended to improve facilities, academic programs, scholarships and other needs at the universities, has been held up.