A move is under way in Hawaii – and has been pushed by the Obama administration – regarding the “sovereignty” of native Hawaiians, and as part of that an enrollment list of qualified people is being assembled for an election on that question.
And it’s getting the state sued.
Officials with the Washington watchdog Judicial Watch said on Thursday the Obama White House has been criticized already for taking “executive action” toward the “reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the native Hawaiian community,” whose members are citizens of the United States since the state was added to the nation in the 1950s.
But what’s drawing the lawsuit is the plan to sort voters by race and perspective, and then only allow certain people to vote on the scheme for native Hawaiian “self-government.”
“Who would believe that in this day and age U.S. citizens are being denied access to the right to vote explicitly because of their race and their points of view,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a prepared statement.
“Using a race-based enrollment list to help radicals in Hawaii tear the state apart and break away from the United States of America is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and basic federal voting rights law. And that Hawaiian officials would prevent you from voting if you don’t sign up for their racial apartheid theories is an affront to the First Amendment.
“Our clients who are being denied their core constitutional rights believe courts can’t shut down this racist scheme soon enough,” he said.
The case, in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii, was brought on behalf of Hawaiians who, either because of their race or their viewpoint “are explicitly denied the right to vote, in violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.”
Officials at the state did not respond to a WND request for comment.
The current move developed starting in 2011 when the Hawaiian legislature adopted Act 195, which authorizes a state agency, the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, to list “native Hawaiians” who would be allowed to submit amendments to the state constitution at a planned constitutional convention – and to vote on issues regarding that sovereignty.
The law defines a native Hawaiian as a person determined by the government to be a direct descendant of the state’s aboriginal people.
Hawaii News Now reported that Grassroots Institute of Hawaii President Keli’i Akina condemned the plan as unconstitutional.
“The government cannot just create an Indian tribe. And Hawaiians were never an Indian tribe. We were citizens of all races in a constitutional monarchy,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement said the initial goal is recognition.
Then, said Michelle Kauhane, “once that governing entity is created, we have options on who we want to recognize us.”
The lawsuit filed Thursday names the state, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the commission as defendants.
It seeks a court ruling that the process required to register for the “native Hawaiian voter roll” violates the First, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments, as well as federal voting laws.
The effort, called the Kana’iolowalu campaign, allows people to register if that person
has “maintained a significant cultural, social, or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community” and “wishes to participate” in organizing an anticipated “Native Hawaiian governing entity.”
At “Indiancountry” website, a report noted that legislative plans for such official recognition were unsuccessful. And it said those plans never would have resolved the problem existing “between the existence of the Hawaiian Kingdom as an independent state and the push to convert that entity into a domestic dependent nation within U.S. federal policy.”
That report noted a “growing number” of Hawaiians “consider their country illegally occupied according to international law.”
Another website, Hawaii-nation, reported that the “Hawaiian Kingdom” previously brought a complaint over the issue to the United Nations and an international law expert said at one point the U.S. has a duty to free the Hawaiian islands.
Regarding the looming plan, it would restrict voters to those with certain racial characteristics.
And further, those who want to participate must affirm:
- That they affirm the unrelinquished sovereignty of the native Hawaiian people, and intend to participate in the process of self-governance.
- That they have a significant cultural, social or civic connection to the native Hawaiian community.
- And that they are native Hawaiian: a lineal descendant of the people who lived and exercised sovereignty in the Hawaiian islands prior to 1778, or a person who is eligible for the programs of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, 1920, or a direct lineal descendant of that person.
The lawsuit argues: “The restrictions on registering for the roll violate the U.S. Constitution, including the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Fifteenth Amendment, the First Amendment, and the Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments; and federal law, including the Civil Rights…”
The claim continues, “The defendants fully intended to restrict who may register for the roll on the basis of ancestry, as shown by the plain text of Act 195 as well as the text of the online registration procedures, and as shown by numerous public statements by the defendants, including those made on their registration website… Act 195 and the defendants’ registration procedures deny and abridge the plaintiffs’ rights to vote on account of race, in violation of the Fifteenth Amendment.”
The Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act also fall before the proposal.
The Grassroots Institute of Hawaii, a Hawaii-based think tank, is helping in the case, and Akina, a plaintiff in the case, said, “Instead of OHA and the state continuing to waste millions of dollars on the pursuit of a political sovereignty campaign, they need to use these precious funds to meet the real needs of Hawaiians for housing, jobs, education, and health care.
“Given the low enrollment in the certified Native Hawaiian Roll, it is clear that the Native Hawaiian people themselves have rejected OHA-backed efforts to create a racially exclusive nation. The time has come to stop dividing Hawaii’s people and start uniting them.”