Hopwood v. State of Tex., A 92 CA 563 SS.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Western District of Texas
Citation861 F. Supp. 551
Docket NumberNo. A 92 CA 563 SS.,A 92 CA 563 SS.
PartiesCheryl J. HOPWOOD, Douglas W. Carvell, Kenneth R. Elliott, and David A. Rogers, Plaintiffs, v. The STATE OF TEXAS; University of Texas Board of Regents; Bernard Rapopart, Ellen C. Temple, Lowell H. Lebermann, Jr., Robert J. Cruikshank, Thomas O. Hicks, Zan W. Holmes, Tom Loeffler, Mario E. Ramirez, and Martha E. Smiley, as members of the Board, in their official capacities; University of Texas at Austin; Robert M. Berdahl, President of the University of Texas at Austin in his official capacity; University of Texas School of Law; Mark G. Yudof, Dean of the University of Texas School of Law in his official capacity; Stanley M. Johanson, Professor of Law in his official capacity, Defendants.
Decision Date19 August 1994


Terral Ray Smith, Small, Craig & Werkenthin, Steven W. Smith, Austin, TX, Joseph A. Shea, Jr., Michael P. McDonald, Vincent A. Mulloy, Center for Individual Rights, Washington, DC, R. Kenneth Wheeler, Wallace, Harris, Sims & Wheeler, Richmond, VA, Joseph A. Wallace, Wallace, Harris & Sims, Elkins, WV, Paul J. Harris, Wallace, Harris, Sims & Wheeler, Richmond, VA, Michael E. Rosman, Center for Individual Rights, Washington, DC, for plaintiffs.

Harry M. Reasoner, Allan Van Fleet, Betty Owens, Vinson & Elkins, Houston, TX, Javier Aguilar, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., Toni Hunter, Atty. General's Office, Sarah L. Anderson, Tex. Atty. Gen., Samuel Issacharoff, Charles Alan Wright, University of Texas School of Law, R. Scott Placek, Barry D. Burgdorf, Vinson & Elkins, Austin, TX, for defendants.


SPARKS, District Judge.

The plaintiffs, Cheryl J. Hopwood, a white female, and Douglas W. Carvell, Kenneth R. Elliott, and David A. Rogers, three white males, have brought suit against the defendants1 alleging violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, 42 U.S.C.A. § 1981 (West Supp. 1994), 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983 (West 1981), and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000d (West 1981).2 All of these provisions prohibit discrimination because of race. For the alleged violations, the plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiffs contend the defendants discriminated against them by favoring less qualified black and Mexican American applicants for admission to the University of Texas School of Law through the use of a quota system. This cause was tried before the Court, without a jury, on May 16th through May 20th and May 23rd through May 25th, 1994.

The cause focuses on one of the most divisive issues faced by society, affirmative action, and highlights the tension that exists when the individual rights of nonminorities come into conflict with programs designed to aid minorities. The plaintiffs have contended that any preferential treatment to a group based on race violates the Fourteenth Amendment and, therefore, is unconstitutional. However, such a simplistic application of the Fourteenth Amendment would ignore the long history of pervasive racial discrimination in our society that the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted to remedy and the complexities of achieving the societal goal of overcoming the past effects of that discrimination. Further, the Supreme Court, which is continually faced with trying to reconcile the meaning of words written over a century ago with the realities of the latter twentieth century, has declined to succumb to an original intent or strict constructionist argument. Therefore, the Court will decline the plaintiffs' invitation to ignore the law established by the highest court of this land and to declare affirmative action based on racial preferences as unconstitutional per se. The issue before the Court is whether the affirmative action program employed in 1992 by the law school in its admissions procedure met the legal standard required for such programs to pass constitutional muster. The Court, having carefully considered the evidence presented at trial, the arguments of counsel, and the briefing provided by the parties, finds that it did not.


The reasoning behind affirmative action is simple — because society has a long history of discriminating against minorities, it is not realistic to assume that the removal of barriers can suddenly make minority individuals equal and able to avail themselves of all opportunities. Therefore, an evaluation of the purpose and necessity of affirmative action in Texas' system of higher education requires an understanding of past discrimination against blacks and Mexican Americans, the minorities receiving preferences in this cause, and the types of barriers these minorities have encountered in the educational system.

A. Discrimination in Primary and Secondary Education

The history of official discrimination in primary and secondary education in Texas is well documented in history books, case law, and the record of this trial. The Court, therefore, will address it only in summary fashion.

Even after the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the State of Texas adopted a policy of official resistance to integration of its public schools. This policy of resistance resulted in numerous lawsuits and court-imposed desegregation plans throughout the past twenty years. Wright, vol. 19 at 38-44; Romo, vol. 17 at 45-51. Many of the school districts found to be operating dual systems of education were also found to practice official discrimination against black and Mexican American students. Wright, vol. 19 at 40-43; Romo, vol. 17 at 45-51; Rodriguez, vol. 17 at 8-9.

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. Glenn, vol. 23 at 46-49. Further, as of May 1994, desegregation lawsuits remain pending against over forty Texas school districts. D-457; see also D-370, 373, 419; Wright, vol. 19 at 38-40; Romo, vol. 17 at 45-46.

The lack of educational opportunity for minorities has been compounded by the lower socioeconomic status of minorities in Texas. Statistics continue to indicate significant disparities between minority and nonminority students in skills and academic knowledge attained in the public schools. Although the generally lower socioeconomic status of black and Mexican American families is partially accountable for some of the disparities, the gap is exacerbated by historically inferior educational preparation of minorities. Glenn, vol. 23 at 30-36. Further, at each educational level, there is a marked decline in the level of attainment by minorities, as reflected in comparison of drop-out rates between minorities and nonminorities and the percentages of the respective groups that graduate from high school and college.3

B. Discrimination in Higher Education

As with primary and secondary education, Texas' system of higher education has a history of state-sanctioned discrimination. Discrimination against blacks in the state system of higher education is well documented in history books, case law, and the State's legislative history. The State of Texas, by constitution and statute, previously required the maintenance of "separate schools ... for the white and colored children." See Tex. Const. art. VII, § 7 (1925, repealed 1969). This policy resulted in the establishment of segregated schools for blacks that were inferior to the white schools. Further, opportunities available to blacks to attend college were extremely limited.4

In 1946, when Heman Sweatt, a black man, sought admission to the law school and was refused admission, a Texas court, while holding that Article VII, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution precluded his admission, ordered the state to provide a law school for blacks. See Sweatt v. Painter, 210 S.W.2d 442 (Tex.Civ.App. — Austin 1948). The State hastily created a makeshift law school that had no permanent staff, no library staff, no facilities, and was not accredited. Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 632, 70 S.Ct. 848, 849-50, 94 L.Ed. 1114 (1950). In 1950, a unanimous United States Supreme Court ruled that the State of Texas' provisions regarding the legal education of white and minority students violated the Fourteenth Amendment and ordered that Sweatt be admitted to the previously all-white University of Texas School of Law. Sweatt, 339 U.S. at 636, 70 S.Ct. at 851. Sweatt left the law school in 1951 without graduating after being subjected to racial slurs from students and professors, cross burnings, and tire slashings. Wright, vol. 19 at 24-25.

The Sweatt case is the most flagrant incident of state-sanctioned discrimination occurring against blacks at the University of Texas. However, the record reflects that during the 1950s, and into the 1960s, the University of Texas continued to implement discriminatory policies against both black and Mexican American students. Mexican American students were segregated in on-campus housing and assigned to a dormitory known as the "barracks," as well as excluded from membership in most university-sponsored organizations. Romo, vol. 17 at 43. Additionally, until the mid 1960s, the Board of Regents policy prohibited blacks from living in or visiting white dormitories. Wright, vol. 19 at 26-28; D-482.

Beginning in the mid 1970s, discrimination in Texas' system of higher education came under attack through a court-ordered investigation by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The investigation of Texas' system resulted from a lawsuit initiated in 1970 to require HEW to take action to enforce the provisions of Title VI.5 The courtordered investigation of ten states, which did not include Texas, began in 1973. In 1977, the court extended the order to an...

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    ...OPW.19 According to their invoice, the students also researched "court proceedings in the Hopwood case," referring to Hopwood v. Texas, 861 F.Supp. 551 (W.D.Tex.1994), rev'd, 78 F.3d 932 (5th Cir.1996), in which plaintiff's expert Thernstrom had testified for the Hopwood plaintiff-appellant......
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