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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 8, 2006

Kamehameha case on June 20 docket

Advertiser Staff

A rehearing of the case involving Kamehameha Schools' 120-year-old admissions policy giving preference to native Hawaiians will be heard June 20 by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the court announced yesterday.

The court decided last month to rehear the case at the request of Kamehameha attorneys, who want to overturn an earlier decision by a three-member panel of the court that ruled the schools' policy violates federal civil rights law.

This time, arguments will be made "en banc" before a panel consisting of 15 members of the court.

At issue is a lawsuit filed by John Doe, a boy seeking admission to the school who believes he was denied admission based on his race. If Doe wins, it would throw out Kamehameha's longstanding policy of admitting primarily those with Hawaiian ancestry and force the school to admit people regardless of race. The school has been allowed to continue the preference policy through the appeals process.

The school has argued that the charitable trust now worth about $6 billion was established in 1884 by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop primarily to meet the social, economic and educational disadvantages of Hawaiians, and that those concerns still need to be addressed before the preference policy can end.

Attorneys for the boy, however, called the policy discriminatory and a violation of his civil rights.

The 2-1 decision issued in August against the school set off an uproar among Kamehameha supporters and led to a series of marches and rallies.