The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Texas v. Hopwood, a case challenging the University of Texas Law School’s affirmative action policy. Lower court rulings in the case forced Texas to drop affirmative action at public colleges, universities, and law schools in 1996. The Court has not heard an affirmative action case on higher education since the 1978 Bakke decision; however, in contracting cases, the Court has ruled against affirmative action policies in recent years.
Hopwood has had a devastating effect on minority law school admissions. Last year’s entering class of 500 at the University of Texas Law School had just 18 black and 34 Mexican-American students (just about ten percent of those admitted) in a state where 40 percent of the population is black or Mexican-American. To rectify this imbalance at the undergraduate level, Texas’ new policy guarantees undergraduate admission to any public university to all students who graduate in the top ten percent of their high school class. Recognizing that many schools in the U.S. are racially homogenous, this policy could help to improve minority admissions to public colleges and universities in the state.