Ann Richards, Governor of the State of Texas v. League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

868 S.W.2d 306 (1994)

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Ann Richards, Governor of the State of Texas v. League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

Texas Supreme Court
868 S.W.2d 306 (1994)

Facts

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) (plaintiffs), along with several other Mexican American organizations and Mexican American residents of Texas (plaintiffs), initiated a class-action lawsuit against Ann Richards, the governor of Texas, members of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the regents of Texas universities (collectively, Texas) (defendants). LULAC’s suit alleged that Texas’s system of higher education was discriminatory, denying Mexican American residents equal access to higher-education resources. LULAC argued that the system violated Article 1, §3 of the Texas constitution, which guaranteed equality under the law without regard to race or national origin. LULAC’s suit claimed that Texas, through its legislative apparatus and public universities, created a system that offered fewer higher-education opportunities and resources to Mexican American residents in the border region of Texas. A trial court made several findings of fact, including that (1) only 10 percent of state funds for public universities were allocated to the border region, despite it being home to 20 percent of the population; (2) 54 percent of public-university students in the region were Hispanic, compared with 7 percent in the rest of Texas; and (3) students in the border region had to travel an average of 225 miles to the nearest university offering a broad range of programs, compared with 45 miles for students outside the region. The trial court also found that the disparities existed against a history of discrimination against Mexican Americans in the border region. Texas defended its system with evidence that funding was based on facially neutral formulas, the results of which were influenced by various factors such as equipment needs, hiring markets, and student-faculty ratios. The trial court, based on these findings, issued a declaratory judgment for LULAC. Texas appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Phillips, C.J.)

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