[worlds-indigenous-people] Supreme Court ruling on Rice v. Cayetano
- Aloha all,
The following is an article from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin about the
US Supreme Court's decision on the Rice v. Cayetano case, concerning
the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Much has happened in the past week and
many activists are gearing up for acts of civil disobedience in
response to this decision.
To find out more on this issue, and what's going on in Hawai'i, go to
<<Honolulu Star Bulletin, FEB. 29, 2000:
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has hired the law firm that defended the
Schools trustees during the state's three-year
the trust to represent the Hawaiian agency
in federal court.
The decision to hire McCorriston Miho Miller Mukai by the
board comes amid a whirlwind of
activity yesterday after last week's Rice vs. Cayetano
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the state's
Hawaiians-only voting restriction for OHA
elections now has one trustee advocating plans for civil
disobedience, while strong opposition to make
the OHA board an elected or appointed body has state
hesitant to act and others saying it's
And the 7-2 ruling has prompted renewed and immediate
federal recognition of a Hawaiian
nation, since many say the Supreme Court was very clear
OHA, as it is now, cannot be that
But most of all, everyone is waiting to hear from Gov. Ben
Cayetano, who returns late tonight from a
nine-day trip. He faces questioning from trustees, state
lawmakers and the public over his plans to
appoint eight interim trustees within the next few weeks
replace those now on the OHA board, except
for interim trustee Donald Cataluna.
Former Gov. John Waihee, whose law firm is still under
by OHA, said he hopes Cayetano takes
into consideration that his decision to replace the
"undercuts" the Hawaiian community.
Waihee, a delegate to the 1978 Hawaii Constitutional
that created OHA, said any attempt to
change the board without a plan in place is not the thing
Slow down, think it out
Waihee said management of the trust is very important and
should be some stability during this
transition period. He believes all parties involved "need
slow down and see what the implications are,"
and to find some way to return some self-governance to the
"I think the governor has to do what he has to do,"
after a three-hour, closed door meeting
yesterday with trustees, retired Hawaii Supreme Court
Robert Klein and attorney William
"What I would like to say is that I think the Supreme
wrong, and that this decision was not one
that took into account Hawaii's history," he said.
Klein joined McCorriston's firm after he retired from the
Hawaii Supreme Court in January. The U.S.
Supreme Court may send the case back to U.S. District
Hawaii to decide how to implement the
high court's decision.
OHA Chairman Clayton Hee said OHA plans to file an action
federal court to allow OHA to intervene
in any proceedings stemming from the Rice case. The move,
said, helps protect the trust assets and
management, as well as keep the institutional integrity
so that services to Hawaiians continue.
Hee said the board has not yet decided who will be the
attorney for OHA. Legal fees are being
negotiated, he said.
Hee, Cayetano to meet
While the court action may be viewed as a step to protect
jobs of the eight trustees, Hee stressed
trustees have not placed themselves before the $350
trust, its management or the beneficiaries --
which all remain priorities for the board.
Hee has a meeting with Cayetano tomorrow.
Both the state and OHA argued against the appeal by Harold
"Freddy" Rice before the Supreme Court,
but now find themselves facing off as a result of the
Hee said. "This is not the time to draw a line
between partners. This is a time to work together."
But trustee Mililani Trask said unity is not the only
and that Hawaiians should prepare for civil
disobedience to defend their rights and trust assets.
tomorrow will describe her plans for protests,
which she said she will do with or without the support of
rest of the OHA board.
Trask said yesterday all trustees have taken an oath and
under a fiduciary obligation to protect the
trust. Some fear Cayetano wants to replace the board to
quick settlement with OHA over past-due
revenues from ceded lands. Cayetano last week said that's
his intent. He said each trustee he selects
will have an obligation to the trust above all else.
Trask said her plans are based on the "template" used by
late civil rights activist Martin Luther King
Jr. and by India's Gandhi. Those protests could include
at state buildings and airports or rallies like
the huge 1993 gathering at Iolani Palace for the 100th
anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian
She said the goal is to achieve social justice in a
system that is not responsive to the needs of
Hawaiians. "This office provides basic and critical
the community. If the government is intent
upon preventing us from doing that job, then we need to
to the government in the appropriate
Meanwhile, state lawmakers appear to have second thoughts
pushing through legislation to make
OHA an appointed or elected board. House Speaker Calvin
Palolo) said the House plans to kill
such bills because of overwhelming criticism they
The Senate Hawaiian Affairs Committee continues with its
statewide public hearings on the matter, but
without House support, the measures appear doomed.
House Republicans urged Cayetano yesterday to reconsider
decision to replace trustees, saying the
Supreme Court ruling does not require it and the trustees
duly elected. They added the governor
may have acted prematurely and overstepped his authority.
Let the court look at it
He should wait for the U.S. District Court to rule on the
status of the existing trustees, they said.
"Current law does not appear to give the governor the
remove OHA trustees," said Rep. David
Pendleton (R, Kailua). "The governor only has the power
a vacancy if the board fails to fill it within
60 days after its occurrence."
Rep. Sol Kahoohalahala (D, Lanai) said yesterday he plans
introduce a resolution supporting federal
recognition of a Hawaiian nation as part of a renewed
The Rice decision, the recent federal reconciliation
in Hawaii and the 1993 congressional
resolution apologizing to Hawaiians for the 1893 overthrow
point are beacons on which direction
Hawaiians must take, he said.
"We are being directed, I think, just by all of these
to finally seek the federal recognition that
Hawaiian people must have in order to try and become
self-determined," said Kahoohalahala, who is
also a delegate to the Native Hawaiian Convention.
Convention Chairman Charles Rose yesterday agreed the
is federal recognition of a sovereign
nation. Rose believes the convention's efforts to propose
models of sovereignty to Hawaiians -- which was
started by the former Hawaiian Sovereignty Elections
are not affected by the ruling."We're not
choosing sides. We just want to give them the right to
choices, and if they make the choices,
whatever the choice is, we should live with it."
Federal officials from the U.S. Interior and Justice
departments said yesterday they will delay the release
of a draft report on the reconciliation process because
Mark Van Norman, director of the Justice Department's
Tribal Justice, said the decision
shouldn't hurt the process because it underscores the
importance of clarifying the unique relationship
between the United States and the Hawaiian community. A
report is expected soon with
recommendations on how federal reconciliation should