University of Texas Is Finished Fighting Affirmative Action, Officials Say. (Austin, Texas)

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After years of appeals, the University of Texas said last month that it was finished fighting its landmark court battle over affirmative action.

The decision effectively ends the case named for Cheryl Hopwood and three other Whites who sued the university's law school in 1992, saying they were denied admission because of a policy that gave preferential treatment to less-qualified Hispanic and Black applicants.

The lawsuit wound up before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 1996 rejected the university's contention that it should be allowed to consider race in admissions.

The so-called Hopwood ruling didn't block the school from using race as a factor in admissions, but prompted public colleges and universities in Texas to drop affirmative action policies.

The ruling was allowed to stand in 1996 by the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear another challenge by the university in June.

The school could have kept the case alive by appealing the 5th Circuit's decision ordering it to pay legal fees, but university President Larry Faulkner said that wouldn't happen.

"We vigorously pursued appeals, arguing the complex issues surrounding affirmative action, to resolve these important issues for the nation at large," Faulkner says. "The Hopwood case will clearly not be the one that leads to this resolution."

The Supreme Court hasn't ruled definitively on affirmative action since the 1978 Bakke decision, when the majority said universities may take race into account in admissions. However, challenges to the University of Michigan's preferential policies could reach the high court during the current term. In those cases, a federal judge in Detroit struck down the admissions policy of the University of Michigan law school, saying the criteria were not clearly defined and relied too heavily on race. …


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