While several black Washington citizens expressed fears that yesterday's Bakke decision would hurt efforts to combat racial discrimination, many regional officials predicted that their affirmative action programs would stand up under the long-awaited U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The court held yesterday that the racial quota system for admissions used by the University of California medical school at Davis was unconstitutional. But the justices ruled that affirmative action programs, taking race into consideration as one element among many criteria, can properly be used.
"It is the beginning of the end for everything that we marched for and fought for over the last 10 years," said Eddie Faison, 46, a parole officer who lives in Washington. "From now on it's just downhill for minorities, not just blacks," added Faison, whose words were echoed by several Washington citizens.
But university and government officials in the area who direct affirmative action programs said they believed the complicated ruling would not "adversely effect" their efforts.
Maryland Commissioner of Higher Education Sheldon Knorr said he believes the University of Maryland's program that sets goals for minority enrollment by 1980 "is onsistent with the (Supreme Court) ruling.
"We have always said we don't want quotas . . . and we do not want to make race the sole criterion for admissions," Knorr said.
The commissioner said the university system has instead instituted programs like student aid grants, counseling at high school and colleges and other recruiting activities to make the schools more attractive to minority students.
At Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, Charles Abernathy, a professor of civil rights law, said simply: "The decision won't affect us at all."
An official at Virginia's College of William and Mary was just as confident about the decision's lack of impact on his school.
At George Mason University, in Fairfax, a spokesman said there was "insufficient understanding of the decision" at this point, but he "suspected" it would not hurt the university's affirmative action programs.
State officials in Maryland and a Montgomery County official expressed the same viewpoint. Still, Washington citizens seemed certain that the impact would be detrimental.
Ezzard J. Brown, a 21-year-old Howard University student, said he was worried that the decision would harm his chances of getting into an Ivy League law school next year.
"I'm not sure where affirmative action stands now, but the speed at which minorities were going will probably be retarded now," Brown said. "Next year, another case will come up that will probably have an even harder impact on the plight of black people."
A black orthodontist in Washington, Robert Ray, 32, said he has been tremendously helped by his dental firmative action program.
"I've already gotten where I wanted to go," Ray said. "But it was with the help of affirmative action. This ruling is going to change the trend all the way around. We will be set way, way [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCES]