The two people nominated by Gov. Greg Abbott to join the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System support affirmative action.
On Thursday, Abbott nominated Sara Martinez Tucker of Laredo, head of an education nonprofit and a former U.S. undersecretary of education, as well as David Beck, a prominent Houston attorney and a founding member of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, a group formed to oppose education reform proposals put forward by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation and to defend the university’s president, Bill Powers, from criticism.
Martinez Tucker and Beck signed their names to a friend-of-the-court brief filed in a 2013 case before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding affirmative action known as Fisher v. UT. The brief argued in favor of affirmative action at UT, and the list of signers reads like an invite list to a Powers’ Christmas party.
As attorney general, Abbott represented UT in the early stages of the litigation but dropped out in 2012, apparently at Powers’ request. There was speculation at the time Abbott didn’t want to have to explain his defense of affirmative action during a run for governor.
Abbott also nominated Stephen Hicks, another friend of Powers, to serve another term on the board.
The nominees must still be confirmed by the state Senate, which is now run by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has called for investigations into UT’s admissions practices.
The pro-Powers nominations come as little surprise, as Abbott sat on an investigation into the UT Law School foundation for nearly two years. When Deputy Attorney General John Scott produced a highly critical report, the Attorney General’s office withheld it until the 11th hour — Dec. 31 of last year.
Affirmative actions policies at the University of Texas have been the subject of two major Supreme Court decisions. – watchdog.org