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Hopwood v. Texas

What Happened Next - A Chilling Effect

The University of Texas School of Law produced more African-American and Mexican-American graduates combined than any other law school in the USA, with the exception of historically African-American schools such as Howard University.

The 1996 decision in Hopwood ended all consideration of race in admissions to the law school.  The result was that minority enrollment shrank dramatically.  Black enrollment dropped more than 90% in the first year, from 38 to 4.  Mexican-American enrollment dropped nearly 60%, from 64 to 26. 

To understand the impact these declines have in a typical law school classroom, consider that minority students (or any other group of students) are divided among four first-year sections, twelve or more small-section first year courses, and scores of upper level courses.  Without affirmative action, many classes have no African-American or Mexican-American students.    

Even with affirmative action, minority enrollment at the law school had never approached minority proportions in the state's population--Texas is more than 11% Black and more than 30% Mexican-American.  Without affirmative action, minority enrollment at the law school is a small fraction of the state's minority population.

With or without affirmative action, the average applicant to the law school has less than a 25% chance of admission.  Affirmative action makes a difference in these chances of only 2 or 3%.  With more than 4000 applicants a year, affirmative action for a hundred or so of them has little effect on everybody else.

 Source: American Bar Association, 1992-1998, Table C3-9899. Douglas Laycock,  June 25, 2001.