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Is It Morally Acceptable for a Gift-Giver to Discriminate?

Princess Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop was Hawaii’s biggest landowner when she created her Last Will and Testament in 1884. At the time of her Will, the Princess knew she had breast cancer. Also, at the time of her Will, Hawaii was not part of the United States.

Worried about native Hawaiians, and concerned that native-Hawaiian children should receive an excellent education, the Princess willed her fortune to a trust which would benefit those children. Schools would be expanded or created for both boys and girls.

In the ensuing years, the Princess' trust has increased in value and has provided the funds for native-Hawaiian children to be educated.  Today non-native Hawaiians assert that the Princess’ trust discriminates in favor of the children she wanted to protect and, because it is discriminatory, it should be changed.

Do you think that the government should tamper with the Princess' bequest to native-Hawaiian children? Explain your answer.

Do you think that the Princess' wishes, which were legally set forth in her Will at a time when Hawaii was not part of the United States, are subject to a federal court's analysis? Why, or why not?

Should any court of law, federal or otherwise, ever have the power to set aside part of the Princess’ Will, which was written more than 130 years ago, to determine whether her actions were discriminatory (within the meaning of how that term is used today)?  Explain your answer.


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