Still Counting by Race at The University of Texas
The University of Texas has a long history of discriminating on the basis of race. In 1950, four years before the landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered UT’s law school to admit black students, a rare desegregation ruling under the “separate but equal” regime. In 1950’s Sweatt v. Painter, the High Court concluded that Texas’ newly-established all-black law school (created in response to Heman Sweatt’s legal challenge) was not “substantially equal” to UT’s law school under the rubric of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). As a result, UT’s law school opened its doors to black students. The precedent in Sweatt v. Painter is a painful reminder to Texans of the state’s race-conscious past, and the well-deserved source of shame for the Jim Crow era. In 2005, Travis County named the local courthouse, where a state judge rejected Sweatt’s path-breaking lawsuit, in his honor.
Alas, Texas has not learned the right lesson of history—the principle of color blindness. The University of Texas continues to discriminate on the basis of race, boasts about it, and expends considerable legal resources to defend the practice in court. The only difference is that UT’s goal is now achieving “diversity” by discriminating in favor of blacks and Latinos.
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