Texas Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Hopwood Case
Texas Attorney General John Cornyn asked the U.S. Supreme Court last month to review the landmark Hopwood ruling that led to a ban on race-based policies for admissions, financial aid and scholarships at the state’s public universities.
“This is probably the last chance to get a U.S. Supreme Court review of this case,” says Patricia Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. “We’re really hopeful.”
The petition seeks permission for the UT law school to use race as one factor among others in admissions decisions. The school has a compelling interest to use race in limited ways to help assure diversity, Ohlendorf says.
The case stems from a 1992 lawsuit in which four White students sued after they were denied admission to the UT law school. The case is named after Cheryl Hopwood, who was one of the four students.
The students said they were denied admission because the school gave preferential treatment to less qualified Hispanic and Black applicants. While parts of their argument were rejected, a federal judge found the university had an unconstitutional admissions policy.
The controversy over race-based policies exploded when a state official stepped in.
Former Attorney General Dan Morales, a Democrat, interpreted federal court rulings in the case to apply to scholarships and financial aid as well. The UT system and most other state universities in Texas stopped using affirmative action scholarships and financial aid. Many blamed that move for a subsequent drop in minority enrollment across the state.
Universities have since been able to boost minority enrollment through laws that grant automatic admission to the top 10 percent of high school graduates.
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