East Hawaii News

UPDATE: Supreme Court Orders Stay on Native Hawaiian Election

November 27, 2015, 9:00 AM HST
* Updated November 27, 11:31 AM
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***Updated at 11:25 a.m. to include a statement from Na’i Aupuni.***

A Native Hawaiian Election that would elect 40 delegates to a constitutional convention, or ‘aha, has been blocked by United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy through a temporary stay declared on Friday.

The election would be a first-step towards potential Native Hawaiian self-governance.

Friday’s Supreme Court ruling prohibits the counting of ballots cast and the announcement of election winners until further order from the Court.

Voting on delegates began on Nov. 1 and ballots are required to be returned by Nov. 30, with the announcement of the 40 chosen individuals on Dec. 1.

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Under the ruling, further activity by Nai ‘Aupuni guiding the election is frozen.

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Thirty-two candidates out of the 200 total running are going for Seven Big Island seats.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright’s ruling against litigation filed by two non-Hawaiians and four Native Hawaiians, claiming that the election violated their First Amendment rights.

The election would place delegates in a constitutional convention in February. Work during the convention would include efforts to create a potential self-determination governing document and ratification referendum of that governing document, with the potential of self-governance under the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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Na’i Aupuni released the following statement in response to the recent ruling:

“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. Native Hawaiian self-governance has been discussed for over 120 years without tangible results. While the counting of votes has been temporarily enjoined by the United States Supreme Court (USSC), we are confident that Judge Seabright, Hawaii’s Federal Court chief judge, correctly denied Grassroot Institute’s motion to enjoin the election and that Judge Seabright’s order will ultimately be affirmed.

“Most importantly, the USSC’s order did not bar voting. 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.”

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