Federal Judge Rejects Discrimination Lawsuit From Historically Black Florida A&M University

A case claiming the state of Florida discriminated against historically Black Florida A&M University has been dismissed by United States District Judge Robert Hinkle. The lawsuit was filed by six students from the university who allege the state discriminated against the HBCU in regard to the school’s funding and programs. An earlier version of the lawsuit was also dismissed by Judge Hinkle in June 2023, but he allowed the plaintiffs to revise their suit based on his concerns with the original submission. The plaintiffs brought forth their suit again in July 2023 that alleged Florida violated the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The case stated Florida A&M University was underfunded compared to other state universities. It also claimed that some of the university’s programs were duplicated at other state universities, therefore harming Florida A&M University by taking away unique academic opportunities that would attract new students to the school.

According to Judge Hinkle, these examples and others cited in the case did not meet the parameters for de jure (sanctioned by law) segregation and disparities between Florida A&M University and other state universities of Florida. Hinkle asserted that a 2014 funding decision regarding state universities was neutral due to “measurable criteria” regarding enrollment, retention, and graduation rates, among other factors. He also dismissed the discrimination claim regarding duplicate programing among Florida state schools, stating the programs mentioned in the lawsuit come from “standalone, major research universities with their own individual existence, course offerings, and degree programs.”

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