UPDATE: U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Native Hawaiian Election
***Updated at 3 p.m. to include a statement from Na’i Aupuni on Wednesday’s United States Supreme Court decision.***
The United States Supreme Court has blocked the counting of votes in the Native Hawaiian election hosted by Na’i Aupuni.
On Wednesday, the high court granted an injunction requested by a group of Native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians challenging the election, according to information reported by the Associated Press. The block orders the halt of vote counting until the Ninth U.S. District Court of Appeals issues its ruling on the lawsuit challenging the election.
Last Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy declared a temporary stay, preventing the counting of votes and announcement of the 40 delegates that would be elected to a constitutional convention, or ‘aha.
The temporary stay followed a Nov. 19 rejection of a challenge to U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Seabright’s ruling against litigation filed claiming that the election violated their First Amendment rights.
Judge Seabright dismissed the litigation, noting that the election did not have state involvement.
The temporary stay announcement on Nov. 27 was a contributing factor to Na’i Aupuni’s decision to extend the voting period through Dec. 21.
On Monday, Na’i Aupuni Legal Counsel Willian Meheula said in a statement saying that “Because voters may not have cast their ballots over concerns and questions on the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily stop the vote count, we are extending the voting deadline to December 21, midnight Hawai’i time.”
The election would be a first step towards potential Native Hawaiian self-governance.
Na’i Aupuni released the following statement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s deicison.
“Na‘i Aupuni stands by its commitment to provide a legal process for Native Hawaiians to elect leaders to convene to reorganize a government. We believe the process aligns with the U.S. Constitution and that the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately will let the election process proceed. We will ask the appeals court to expedite the hearing so that votes can be counted and the constitutional convention, or ‘Aha, can proceed this summer.
“Native Hawaiian self-governance has been discussed for over 120 years. We encourage voters to cast their ballots before the Dec. 21 deadline. Your vote is the mana to unify us.”