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Ruling: Whites Faced Racial Bias at UT Law School

<i> From Associated Press</i>

White applicants to the University of Texas Law School in 1992 were unconstitutionally discriminated against by an affirmative action policy that evaluated minorities separately, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks upheld the school’s right to use affirmative action but said that it “does not imply that the individual rights of non-minorities should fall by the wayside or be ignored.”

The ruling Friday came in a lawsuit filed by four whites who had sought admission to the Austin law school in 1992.

Sparks awarded the four plaintiffs $1 each and said they were entitled to reapply for the 1995-96 school year without paying further fees.

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School officials argued that the four probably would not have been admitted even under a constitutional process. Sparks said the four did not prove otherwise.

Under the admission policy, more than half of the students of each entering law school class were admitted based on their combined grades and law school exam scores.

For the rest, minority students were compared with other minorities, whites with whites. Discretionary factors including race, gender, age and economic background came into play.

“That was the problem,” university President Robert Berdahl said. “The committee was looking only at the minorities.”

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The university has since changed its admission procedures, preserving affirmative action but dropping the committee that evaluated minority candidates separately.

Terral Smith, lawyer for the four, said the plaintiffs likely would appeal and seek an order admitting them to the law school.


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