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Copyright (c) 2010 University of Hawai'i Law Review
University of Hawai'i Law Review

COMMENT: Ke Kanawai Mamalahoe: Equality in Our Splintered Profession

Winter, 2010

University of Hawai'i Law Review

33 Hawaii L. Rev. 249


Troy J.H. Andrade*


I. Introduction

Adorned in a traditional lei hulu mamo (feather lei), an ancient Hawaiian symbol of nobility, Kathleen Sullivan successfully defended a Native Hawaiian school from challenges to its Hawaiian-only admissions policy. 10 A former Dean of Stanford Law School, an honoree of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America, a veteran practitioner before the U.S. Supreme Court, a Marshall Scholar, and once considered a possible nominee to the Supreme Court, 11 Sullivan has established herself as a preeminent legal scholar and advocate. 12 In a 2009 interview, Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Sullivan's Constitutional Law 13 "one of the finest casebooks in all of law school"-memorializing the legal community's immense respect for this constitutional law expert. 14

How then-given her exceptional credentials and curriculum vitae, matched only by an elite few-did this Harvard Law-trained scholar advocate fail the California bar examination in 2005? 15 Where did she go wrong? Should the bar have denied Sullivan admission because of her score on one exam even though a justice of the Supreme Court relies heavily upon her work? What is the rationale for the bar examination? Is the bar examination an accurate arbiter for the profession? The larger question: Could justice be served, particularly for the marginalized, without the Kathleen Sullivans of the world?

The answers are not simple. Perhaps the bar examination is a "rite of passage" to the legal profession; 16 perhaps it is the locked gate that is opened only ...
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