I thought this deserved an update because according to some, this is just the latest case in a longstanding debate about whether the Bishop's Trust (set up by Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of the Hawaiian monarchy) can continue to exclude all non-Native Hawaiians from the Kamehameha Schools (Evans v. Newton, anyone??). The long and short of it is that the Kamehameha Schools are for students of Native Hawaiian descent (read their mission statement here). The Ninth Circuit says that these schools were established because by the time the U.S.
Despite the vast changes that have occurred over the last 100 years, students of other races are still virtually excluded. But isn't this a private school system with a private endowment? Can't they do whatever they want? No. In Runyon v McCrary, the U.S. Supreme Court held that commercially operated private schools could not discriminate in enrollment on the basis of race. Despite that ruling, in 2003, the Ninth Circuit rejected a constitutional challenge to the discriminatory enrollment policy of the Kamehameha Schools. The case settled before it could be heard by the Supreme Court.
So why do I bring all this up? Well, because it's news that is going on around Hawaii, for one. Also, the Supreme Court may take the case (though, it's doubtful). But also, it relates to the first case I was involved in when I started working here. Specifically, the Hawaiian Homeland Act. Although the history is far too detailed and complicated to discuss in any length, Hawaiian Homelands were lands dedicated to Native Hawaiians by legislation known as the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1921. The Act sets aside certain land that is only available to people with Native Hawaiian ancestry. You do not have to be 100% Native Hawaiian, just have Native Hawaiian blood somewhere in your line. Among other things, the purpose of the Act is to "to enable Native Hawaiians to return to their lands in order to fully support self-sufficiency for native Hawaiians and the self-determination of native Hawaiians in the administration of this Act, and the preservation of the values, traditions, and culture of native Hawaiians."
In conjunction with that, there is also the pending Akaka Bill (named for Sen. Akaka of Hawaii). The Akaka Bill proposes to establish a process for indigenous Native Hawaiians to gain federal recognition similar to an Indian tribe. If the Akaka Bill passes, then I'm pretty sure the Kamehameha Schools would definitely not have to admit non-Native Hawaiians because it would essentially be a sovereign nation's school. Supporters of the Bill actually hope this is the case. So while currently I am sure the Kamehameha Schools' policy is impermissibly discriminatory, I can see a valid legal argument being made that if the Bill passes, the Schools might not be subject to the same rules and regulations that govern a typical private school. For what it's worth, though, it looks like the Bill is as good as dead. Although the Bill had a lot of support among the Democrat-controlled House and Senate, the Republicans