Supreme Court to revisit affirmative action in Texas case

In a University of Texas case, justices consider whether affirmative action can be justified if a school is achieving diversity without using race.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is expected to play a key role in the affirmative action debate.

After a U.S. appeals court struck down race-based college admissions in Texas 16 years ago, the first Mexican American woman elected to the state Legislature proposed a simple change that transformed education in the state.

Rep. Irma Rangel said all students who graduated in the top 10% of their high school class should win admission to the state’s colleges, including the highly regarded University of Texas. Her bill, signed into law by then-Gov. George W. Bush, opened the door to higher education for Mexican American students from the Rio Grande Valley, for black students from Dallas and Houston and for rural white students.

It also changed the University of Texas at Austin. Last year, 36% of those admitted under this policy were Latino or black, double the percentage of “underrepresented minorities” in 1996, the year affirmative action was struck down.

But the university chafed at the “top 10%” law and said its success relied on continuing segregation in many high schools. Left out too were many talented minority students from integrated, highly competitive high schools.


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