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Hopwood v. Texas

Findings of Fact from Hopwood v. Texas

Judge Sam Sparks, of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, conducted two trials in this case and found the facts, excerpted below.  The Court of Appeals did not reverse or set aside these findings of fact.  The District Court and the Court of Appeals disagreed sharply on the law that applies to these facts; see side-by-side excerpts from their conflicting Conclusions of Law

The Law School and the Admissions Process

The Law School is the State's premier law school and is top-rated nationally.  . . .  As a consequence, over 4000 applicants to law school each year compete for approximately 500 available seats.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 563 (W.D. Tex. 1994).

The applicants selected for admission come from a relatively narrow band within the full range of scores.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 563 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

Had the law school based its 1992 admission decisions solely on the applicants' TIs [Texas Indexes] without regard to race or ethnicity, the entering class would have included, at most, nine blacks and eighteen Mexican Americans.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 571 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

Large institutions such as The University of Texas use TI scores to make general distinctions among the many students who apply.  But a TI score is only as good as its two components--the student's GPA and LSAT score.  They are not hard-and-fast numbers determining who is admitted, nor should they be treated as such, because to do so would unfairly reward students who attended weak undergraduate institutions or who took less-than-challenging curricula.

Hopwood v. Texas, 999 F. Supp. 872, 893-94 (W.D. Tex. 1998)

The law school admissions process is incredibly competitive.  In fact, the Court was astonished to discover the number of applicants with drastically better credentials than the four plaintiffs who were denied admission in 1992.

Hopwood v. Texas, 999 F. Supp. 872, 894 (W.D. Tex. 1998)

The plaintiffs probably would not have been offered admission in a constitutional process.

Hopwood v. Texas, 999 F. Supp. 872, 897 (W.D. Tex. 1998)

The current objective of the law school, as articulated at trial, is to continue to narrow the gap to the point where affirmative action will not be required to achieve a representative percentage of minorities in the entering class.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 575 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

The defendants acted in good faith and made sincere efforts to follow federal guidelines and to redress past discrimination.  The record contains no evidence that the defendants intended to discriminate against or to harm the plaintiffs.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 575 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

The Effects of Past Discrimination

The problem of segregated schools is not a relic of the past.  Despite the fact that the public school population is approximately half white and half minority, minority students in Texas attend primarily majority minority schools while white students attend primarily white schools.  Further, as of May 1994, desegregation lawsuits remain pending against over forty Texas school districts.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 554 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

In 1982, Assistant Secretary of Education Clarence Thomas informed Governor Clements that the Texas Plan was deficient because the numeric goals of black and Hispanic enrollment in graduate and professional programs were insufficient.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 556 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

To date, OCR [federal Office for Civil Rights] has not completed its evaluation to determine if Texas is in compliance with Title VI.  However, in January 1994, the DOE [Dept. of Education] notified Governor Richards that OCR was continuing to oversee Texas' efforts to eliminate all vestiges of de jure segregation.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 557 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

The university has made genuine efforts in the last decade to end discrimination by recruiting and maintaining minority faculty members and students and condemning racial incidents occurring on campus or involving student organizations.  Despite these efforts, however, the legacy of the past has left residual effects that persist into the present.  The evidence presented at trial indicates those effects include the law school's lingering reputation in the minority community, particularly with prospective students, as a "white" school; an underrepresentation of minorities in the student body; and some perception that the law school is a hostile environment for minorities.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 572 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

The ultimate effect of abandoning affirmative action would be to redirect minorities to the historically separate state law school at Texas Southern University, thereby resegregating the law school.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 573 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

Diversity

The benefit to the law school educational experience derived from a diverse student population is substantial.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 571 (W.D. Tex. 1994)

It is not possible to achieve a diverse student body without an affirmative action program that seeks to admit and enroll minority candidates.

Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F. Supp. 551, 573 (W.D. Tex. 1994)