The 3-2 decision by a state appellate court allowing Tulane University to keep Newcomb College closed “threatens the rights of all donors in the state of Louisiana,” the president of the group pressing for Newcomb’s reopening said afterward.
Three of the court’s five judges upheld previous rulings that Josephine Newcomb’s founding donations more than a century ago do not require the college to be kept open into perpetuity, it was widely reported Wednesday. (See Nola.com, WWL, WGNO or WVUE for more details.)
Renee Seblatnigg, president of the Future of Newcomb College, praised the two dissenting judges, suggesting that their opinions might form the basis of an appeal to the state Supreme Court. Her complete statement is below:
Today’s 3-2 decision against Susan Henderson Montgomery by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals threatens the rights of all donors in the State of Louisiana and is an affront to the late Josephine Louise Newcomb, founding benefactor of Newcomb College.
Fortunately, Judge Dennis Bagneris and Judge Max Tobias understand the complexities of this case and provide a well-supported and documented dissent that supports the position of Ms. Henderson Montgomery.
In the dissent, written by Judge Tobias, the two judges point out that “one must consider the whole history of Mrs. Newcomb’s donations” when reviewing this case. The other judges that made up the five judge panel failed to do so, and therefore came to the incorrect legal judgment.
The Future of Newcomb College will be conferring with Ms. Henderson Montgomery to determine whether she would like to ask the Louisiana Supreme Court to hear the case. If Ms. Montgomery decides to move forward, we believe the Supreme Court will find, as did Judges Bagneris and Tobias, that “Mrs. Newcomb’s donations to the Tulane Board were subject to a condition and charge” which legally require Tulane to “reopen and operate the H. Sophie Newcomb Memorial College in the same manner and condition as it was operated in July 2005 and to restore Newcomb College’s endowments.”