Law | Federal Recognition

Supreme Court blocks Native Hawaiian self-governance vote

Native Hawaiian youth perform at a community meeting on Moloka'i, Hawaii, on June 17, 2015. Photo from Office of Hawaiian Affairs / Facebook

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday extended an injunction that prevents Native Hawaiians from voting in an election that was supposed to help them form a new government.

By a 5 to 4 vote, the justices blocked the Na'i Aupuni organization from counting ballots or certifying winners until a lawsuit pending in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is resolved.

No reason was given but it's likely that the majority of justices believe the election goes against their prior decision in Rice v. Cayetano. In that case, the court blocked a state agency from holding an election that was restricted to Native Hawaiians.

As a result of the earlier decision, all Hawaiians, including non-Natives, can now vote for trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Non-Natives can also run for office.

Na'i Aupuni is not a state agency but the plaintiffs in the pending lawsuit said the organization received state funds to carry out its goals.

Opponents include Native Hawaiians who don't believe the organization represents the will of the people. Non-Natives also oppose being excluded from the vote, which was called to select delegates for a Native Hawaiian convention.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Akina v. Hawaii.

Get the Story:
Supreme Court Blocks Native Hawaiians' Attempt To Form Own Government (The Huffington Post 12/2)
US Supreme Court Decision Continues to Block Hawaiian Election Vote Count (Maui Now 12/2)
Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Vote Limited to Native Hawaiians (The Wall Street Journal 12/3)

An Opinion:
Noah Feldman : Sun and Sand, But No Sovereignty (Bloomberg View 12/3)

Federal Register Notice:
Procedures for Reestablishing a Formal Government-to-Government Relationship With the Native Hawaiian Community (October 1, 2015)

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