Supreme Court justice blocks Native Hawaiian vote count

28 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Supreme Court Justice Intervenes in Native Hawaiian Election.

With just three days left before the voting deadline, a Supreme Court justice issued a temporary order on Friday following an appeal by election opponents.

Kennedy on Friday ordered officials in Hawaii not to count ballots or name the winners of an election there in which only people of native Hawaiian ancestry could vote. Thousands of Native Hawaiians have been casting ballots for nearly a month to elect delegates to a convention next year where the topic of self-governance will be discussed. The justice’s order was a response to an emergency application from Hawaii residents who said the election violated the 15th Amendment, which bars race discrimination in voting. Friday’s order by Justice Anthony Kennedy temporarily blocks votes from being counted. “I just feel like my heart and my na’au has been ripped out of my body,” said Kalaniakea Wilson. “I put so much into trying to help Native Hawaiians on all the islands.” Wilson is 1 of 200 delegates in the running for 40 seats to the Native Hawaiian convention, or ‘aha. He apparently acted on his own, and his order may mean only that he wanted to preserve the status quo over a holiday weekend until the full court could consider the matter.

Under a definition in a 2011 law, only descendants of “the aboriginal peoples who, before 1778, occupied and exercised sovereignty in the Hawaiian islands” are eligible to vote. “No public official will be elected or nominated; no matters of federal, state or local law will be determined,” the judge, J. Akina, who is of Hawaiian descent, says the election violates the constitution. “In this case, our state government used resources that belonged to everybody and used it in a discriminatory way and in which case they were saying one race deserves those resources and others don’t,” Akina said. Michael Seabright, wrote last month. “A Native Hawaiian governing entity may recommend change, but cannot alter the legal landscape on its own.” After the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, refused to intercede, the challengers urged Justice Kennedy to step in. “Enormous political, social and economic consequences are at stake,” they wrote. “The delegates chosen through this election will decide whether to adopt a new government that will affect every individual living in the state.” “Applicants will have no remedy if the votes in this election are counted and the results certified,” they added. “This election cannot be undone.” In 2000, in Rice v.

Na’i Aupuni did not expect that creating a path for Native Hawaiians to formally discuss self-governance and create a proposed constitution would be unimpeded. Daniel Akaka spent about a dozen years trying to get a bill passed that would give Native Hawaiians the same rights already extended to many Native Americans and Alaska Natives. Na’i Aupuni encourages all voters to continue voting for the delegate candidates who will participate in the ‘Aha or constitutional convention with the goal of making self-governance recommendations for ratification by voters. Hasen, an election law specialist at the University of California, Irvine, said Justice Kennedy’s order was reminiscent of the stay issued by the Supreme Court in Bush v.

Gore that halted the counting of ballots in Florida in the 2000 presidential election. “Here, too,” he wrote on his blog, “the argument for not announcing the results must be one concerned about the legitimacy of the election: Announcing the results, only to have the election declared illegal later, could potentially undermine the voters’ faith in the process.” Michael Seabright in Honolulu ruled last month the purpose of the private election is to establish self-determination for the indigenous people of Hawaii. University of Hawaii law professor Williamson Chang is one of about 200 candidates vying for 40 delegate positions representing Native Hawaiians across the state and those living on the mainland. Those who support the election say it’s an opportunity to create their own government for the first time since 1893, when American businessmen — backed by U.S.

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