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Days before Shannon Faulkner is to become the first female cadet in The Citadel's 152-year history, the state military college has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to bar the gate.

The Citadel asked Chief Justice William Rehnquist on Tuesday to block her entrance so the Supreme Court may consider whether the all-male admissions policy for the cadet corps is unconstitutional. Faulkner is scheduled to become a cadet Saturday.The appeal came shortly after the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the school's request to stay its April order admitting Faulkner if South Carolina did not establish a comparable program for women.

The state is developing a $10 million women's leadership program at private Converse College, but it hasn't been approved by the courts.

Citadel spokesman Terry Leedom said the college is confident it will win a stay but is preparing for Faulkner's admission if it does not. "Whatever comes down, we will obey the law," he said.

Faulkner's attorney, Val Vojdik, was pleased with the decision. "They don't have a . . . right to continue to deny admission to women," she said.

The college has a second appeal pending before the 4th Circuit, challenging U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck's ruling that Faulkner can't be barred from the corps based on her physical condition.

The court's 2-1 majority issued no comment in rejecting the first appeal. Judge Clyde Hamilton, who dissented, said the U.S. Supreme Court should consider the issue before Faulkner enters the corps, "thereby trashing a venerable 152-year history of holistic education for young men at that institution."

The Citadel has spent at least $25,000 to create a private bathroom and security arrangements for Faulkner on the third floor of a school barracks building, Leedom said.

Vojdik said the money will be wasted if Faulkner passes her band audition Saturday because she would then be assigned to the band's barracks.