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Hopwood v. Texas

The Arguments For And Against Hopwood

Hopwood's particular circumstances and rejection of her application were cited as proof that in some instances, affirmative action policies might work in "reverse." She had survived a difficult background, and excelled in school despite economic and personal hardships. Indeed, Hopwood did have slightly better grades and higher LSAT scores than some of the minority students who were admitted to University of Texas, but admissions committee members explained that several other factors were taken into consideration. Her degree from a noncompetitive school was one determinant. A second determinant was the fact that it had taken her six years to earn an associate's (two-year) degree.

Furthermore, most of Hopwood's high marks had been earned in technical courses, not the kind of analytical ones that law-school professors consider necessary training ground for a legal career. Lawyers for the University of Texas also pointed out that Hopwood's application, as well as those of her coplaintiffs, was lacking. She did not write a personal statement, and included no letters of recommendation, both of which are taken into consideration by committee members.

One of Hopwood's coplaintiffs had included a letter of recommendation from a former professor that was anything but positive. Another plaintiff had been denied admission to several other graduate schools, and upon his University of Texas rejection, his father penned a letter to the dean that complained about "mandatory minority and women quotas." This particular candidate's application was then reconsidered, and one University of Texas official said he was then offered admittance. Both the plaintiff and school officials denied this.

To present their argument, the University of Texas defense team was supported by an expert on causation, Olin Guy Wellborn. This University of Texas law professor and member of the admissions committee, investigated whether the four would have been admitted under a more "constitutional" system that did not have dual standards. Wellborn concluded that there would have been little change in the final selection. The plaintiffs whose application had landed in the "discretionary zone" category--where they were then reviewed individually--would not have received the "yes" votes that would have placed them on the acceptance list or even the waiting list.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to PresentHopwood v. Texas - Significance, Denied Admission, Millions In Damages, The Terms Of The Complaint, The Former Policy