Ruling Challenges Policy Of Affirmative Action

SEPARATING applicants by race in pursuit of affirmative-action goals unconstitutionally discriminates against whites, a federal judge ruled on Friday.

Four white applicants who sued the University of Texas Law School for reverse discrimination were awarded $1 each and the right to reapply for the 1995-96 school year without paying the application fees.

In 1992, when the plaintiffs applied to the school, separate admissions committees considered minority applications. Blacks competed only against other black applicants and Mexican-Americans competed against themselves, with everyone else in a separate competitive pool. Just before the case went to trial, the University of Texas changed the policy to preserve affirmative action but evaluate all applicants together.

``Using the color of an applicant's skin to limit the degree of individual comparison between the races neither serves societal goals nor sufficiently protects individual rights under our Constitution,'' said United States District Judge Sam Sparks. Judge Sparks upheld the university's right to practice affirmative action but said that ``does not imply that the individual rights of non-minorities should fall by the wayside or be ignored.''

Terral Smith, lawyer for the plaintiffs, said it was likely they would appeal and seek an order admitting plaintiffs Cheryl Hopwood, Douglas Carvell, Kenneth Elliott, and David Rogers to the law school.

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