Update on John Doe v. Kamehameha Schools

(see this earlier post for more information)

The en banc review has come in and it is in favor of Kamehameha Schools and their admission policy with a preference for Native Hawaiian students.

The docket is a very long one at over a hundred pages and its length gives insight into how the decision for Kam came to be. As I have touched on before, the cultural context of this case is vital in understanding the larger issues at hand. With this same thought, the docket starts out with an explanation of the historical and current situations of Hawaiians before diving in to the issue at hand.

This preface was noticeably missing from the earlier (and now nullified) Circuit Court of Appeals decision in favor of John Doe.

Though there is still one more court to appeal to, I have doubts that this case will make it there. The use of a rare en banc review (in which all judges in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals presided over), suggests a finality on the issue and the case’s uniqueness suggests that the Supreme Court is not likely to pick it up.

That being said, if it does wonder over to Washington, I have a feeling that the decision is likely to be reversed. Otherwise, why review it? I doubt that the Supreme Court would take it on the basis of establishing a conclusive decision (as is often done with cases that go back and forth between winners) since the decision has been relatively steady in favor of Kam.

Instead, if they choose to review this case, it is likely to be used as a way to address race in admissions in other private institutions (i.e. universities) and the court may see this as their way into this issue since the Gratz and Grutter cases were decided under the previous court.


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