Congress passes a sweeping welfare reform act, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. It repeals the Aid to Families With Dependent Children welfare program and creates a new program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), a block grant system under which the states receive lump-sum payments to fund their own welfare programs.

March
In Hopwood v. Texas, 78 F.3d 932 (5th Cir. 1996), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals holds that the University of Texas Law School's affirmative action program violates equal protection. It argues that Justice Powell's opinion in Bakke is no longer controlling precedent and that the University May not legally take race into account at all in admissions. In response to the Court decision, the Texas State legislature passes a bill providing that the top 10% of each high school graduating class will automatically be admitted to the the Texas public university system.

September
On the 14th, George Wallace dies in Birmingham, Alabama, at the age of 79.

November
California voters pass the California Civil Rights Initiative, or Proposition 209, prohibiting state affirmative action programs. In response to a dramatic decline in minority student enrollment in the California schools, the legislature adopts a 4% solution plan according to which the top 4% of every high school graduating class will be admitted to the California public university system beginning in 2001.