Friday, September 9, 2005
Amicus Curiae Brief Filed: The Native American Rights Fund (NARF), in coordination with the Bishop Estate Trustees, on behalf of its client, the National Indian Education Association (NIEA), filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the petition for rehearing en banc filed by the Kamehameha Schools in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), through its attorney, signed onto the brief NARF drafted.
In June 2003, a lawsuit was filed by an anonymous student challenging the Kamehameha Schools policy of restricting admission to Native Hawaiians only. The Kamehameha Schools have given preference to Native Hawaiians in its admissions policy for the past 117 years. In addressing this challenge, the federal district court ruled that the policy was legal because it served "a legitimate remedial purpose of improving Native Hawaiians socioeconomic and educational disadvantages." On August 9, 2005, in a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court reversed that ruling finding that the Schools admission policy constitutes unlawful discrimination and is a violation of federal civil rights law.
NIEA and their member tribes and tribal organizations have a direct interest in ensuring that the educational needs of Native Hawaiian, American Indian and Alaska Native students, and the public and private programs implemented to fulfill those needs, are protected and preserved under federal law. This case presents questions of exceptional importance. In particular, whether remediation of ongoing socioeconomic and educational deficiencies suffered by Native peoples as the result of the influx of western civilization provides "legitimate justification" to support a remedial race-conscious admissions policy of a private school which gives preference to Native students.