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Federal appeals court upholds Hawaii school admissions policy favoring natives

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that the Kamehameha Schools [education website], a private school that accepts no federal funding, can utilize an admissions policy [text] that gives priority to Native Hawaiian students before admitting non-Native Hawaiians. The court's majority reasoned that "Because the Schools are a wholly private K-12 educational establishment, whose preferential admissions policy is designed to counteract the significant, current educational deficits of Native Hawaiian children in Hawaii, and because in 1991 Congress clearly intended Sec. 1981 to exist in harmony with its other legislation providing specially for the education of Native Hawaiians, we must conclude that the admissions policy is valid under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1981."

In February 2006, the Ninth Circuit granted a rehearing [JURIST report], agreeing to allow a 15-member en banc panel to consider the case. Last year, a three-judge Ninth Circuit panel ruled [PDF opinion; JURIST report] that the admissions policy violated 42 USC 1981 [text], a law forbidding racial discrimination in making and enforcing contracts. AP has more.

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