Plaintiffs Ask Court to Halt Race-Based Election Immediately

Plaintiffs Ask Court to Halt Race-Based Election Immediately

Preliminary injunction filed against state’s Native Hawaiians-only nation-building The plaintiffs in the suit against the State of Hawaii and its agencies to stop the racially exclusive election and constitutional convention to establish a native Hawaiians-only nation (Keli’i Akina, et al v. The State of Hawaii, et al) have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction.  The motion asks the court to put the election on hold until after a decision is reached. The group of four Native Hawaiians and two non-Native Hawaiians who brought forth the suit against the election are asking that all the groups involved—including OHA, Na’i Aupuni, and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission—be prevented from engaging in voter registration or calling and holding elections while the case is ongoing. Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute and one of the Native Hawaiian plaintiffs says, “It is imperative to stop draining public funds on a racially discriminatory process that the majority of native Hawaiians have chosen not to endorse, especially while the needs of native Hawaiians for housing, jobs, education, and health go underfunded. ” In the memorandum supporting the motion, the plaintiffs argue that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that the election violates the First Amendment, Fourth and Fifteenth Amendments, and the Voting Rights Act. They further argue that to allow the election process to move forward would cause both the plaintiffs and the citizens of the state irreparable harm, citing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that, “[a]n alleged constitutional infringement will often alone constitute irreparable harm.” Working closely with the Grassroot Institute, the case is being...
Lawsuit Challenges State-sponsored Race-based Election and Hawaiians-only Nation

Lawsuit Challenges State-sponsored Race-based Election and Hawaiians-only Nation

Grassroot Institute and Judicial Watch Assist Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians to Speak Out HONOLULU, HAWAII–August 13, 2015–A group of four Native Hawaiians and two non-Native Hawaiians have filed suit against the State of Hawaii and subsidiary agencies to halt a racially exclusive election and constitutional convention designed to establish a sovereign Hawaiian nation. Working closely with the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, the suit was filed by non-profit watchdog group Judicial Watch, represented by former Hawaii Attorney General Michael Lilly.  Plaintiffs to the suit include native Hawaiians Keli’i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute, Melissa Moniz, Kealii Makekau, and Pedro Gapero, as well as non-Native Hawaiians Joseph Kent and Sean Mitsui. The suit alleges that the election, sponsored by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (through a contracted organization Na’i Aupuni), using the Native Hawaiian Roll (a voter list compiled and certified by the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission), violates the U.S. Constitution by pursuing a race-based and politically qualified election to establish a racially exclusive nation. The suit thus argues that the State and its agencies are in violation of the First Amendment, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, and the Voting Rights Act. The plaintiffs represent three categories:  1) Native Hawaiians whose names were placed on the Native Hawaiian Roll without their consent; 2) Native Hawaiians who are excluded from the Roll because they cannot in good conscience affirm the political declaration required in order to enroll; and 3) Non-Native Hawaiians who were racially discriminated against when excluded from the Roll because of race. According to Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, and a plaintiff in the...
Grassroot Institute Urges DOI to Refrain from Intruding in Native Hawaiian Affairs

Grassroot Institute Urges DOI to Refrain from Intruding in Native Hawaiian Affairs

Watchdog group’s comments note that Department’s proposed rule is potentially divisive HONOLULU, HAWAII–July 9, 2015–In official comments submitted to the Department of Interior (DOI), the Grassroot Institute has highlighted some of the problems in the DOI’s proposed rule regarding the Hawaiian Home Lands, noting that the rule is divisive and flies in the face of the wishes of the Native Hawaiian community. In addition, Grassroot posited that the current system has failed to further economic prosperity of Native Hawaiians, and proposed that the federal government move towards a system that would give leaseholders a private stake in their land. The proposed rule, which is related to Land Exchange Procedures and Procedures to Amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, includes a provision that would allow the DOI to promote “political, cultural, and social reorganization,” as part of the “rehabilitation” of Native Hawaiians envisioned by the HHCA. In its comments, the Grassroot Institute takes exception to that interpretation, pointing out that it not only exceeds the power of the agency, but also ignores the clearly expressed wishes of the Native Hawaiian people, who testified strongly against federal involvement during DOI hearings on a separate proposed rule in 2014. “Congress and Department of Interior officials have both made it clear that political reorganization of Native Hawaiians is outside of the Department’s authority,” the comments state. “On multiple occasions Congress has considered legislation that would create a path for the political organization of Native Hawaiians, an unequivocal indication that Congress has reserved to itself the power to establish a Native Hawaiian tribal entity.” The Grassroot Institute goes on to point out that pursuing political, social, or cultural...
Land and Power Atop Mauna Kea

Land and Power Atop Mauna Kea

What’s really behind the current controversy over the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)? Is it a conflict of religion vs. science?  Hawaiian culture vs. Western technology? What many don’t realize is that there is a bottom-line economic consideration at stake as well.   Mauna Kea represents land and power, and OHA has a financial interest in the outcome of the dispute. As part of the ceded public lands trust, Mauna Kea is income property for OHA from which–for the first time with the TMT sublease signed last year–it receives annual rents which increase as the TMT is built. The question that arises is whether OHA benefits from the uncertainty surrounding the construction. And if so, are they attempting to take advantage of the situation? At a recent OHA board meeting the question of OHA rescinding its approval of the TMT was raised.   According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “Trustee Peter Apo has called for the board to maintain their position as long as possible… to put the board in a better place for negotiating.  Apo said OHA should attempt to renegotiate the oversight of all of the state’s public trust lands….  ‘We need to stay at the table for as long as we possibly can,’ Apo said.” Apo’s comments suggest that OHA could be using the controversy as a negotiating gambit to increase their control of the ceded public lands. Certainly, OHA’s stance seems disingenuous in light of the sincerity with which the protesters are making their case. OHA needs to be reminded that it is not an independent negotiator with a right to hold the public hostage, but a state agency, run by elected officials...