Affirmative Action Is Necessary Essay

942 words - 4 pages

Affirmative Action is Necessary

   Affirmative action is the perfect fuel for a heated debate. Ever since formal plans for affirmative action were proposed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and instigated in 1964, this fiery topic has been battled back and forth at presidential campaigns, discussed in depth in classrooms, and been thoroughly explored at the dinner table. Put simply, affirmative action affects everyone's lives. This has become particularly evident during this past year in the state of Texas, and more specifically in the city of Austin, due to the recent ruling in an affirmative action lawsuit. The ramifications of the decision of this case have effectively destroyed all affirmative action plans created by universities in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Thus these states are on the brink of re-creating a segregated society, in which minorities are forced to linger outside of the world of higher education and risk becoming social monsters.


In 1992, four white applicants, Cheryl Hopwood, Douglas Carvell, Ken Elliott, and David Rogers, were denied admission into the law school at UT Austin. In September of that same year, all four filed a discrimination lawsuit against the law school. When the case was presented before U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks in August of 1994, Sparks denied them their 14th Amendment right to equal protection, because they could not prove reverse discrimination and thus could not prove they would have been admitted to the law school under a system in which all applicants were judged equally (Phillips 3). In turn, the prosecutors took their case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Jerry Smith reversed Judge Sparks decision, ruling the law school's affirmative-action admissions program as unconstitutional. The University of Texas, as well as other state universities, promptly put all of their affirmative action programs on hold. Within a short period of time, financial aid programs aimed at minorities were also ceased, leaving many people to wonder why the schools were suddenly rushing to terminate all of the affirmative action plans they had so staunchly defended in the past. The determination to immediately eliminate all vestige of racial distinctions went to extreme, even comical forms... The most far-reaching action was taken by Commissioner of Higher Education, Kenneth Ashworth, who suspended the statewide program of financial aid to minority students, instituted in 1982 following a federal order that Texas desegregate its college and university system (King 1). It seemed as if the schools were caught in what one faculty member described as 'a race to the bottom'... (King 1), and that the only way out lay in the hands of the Supreme Court. UT Law School professor Douglas Laycock firmly believed that the Supreme Court would overturn the decision. 'I do not count five votes to create a lily-white educational system at major state...

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