East Hawaii News

U.S. Supreme Court Allows ‘Aha to Proceed

January 19, 2016, 5:41 PM HST
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Wikicommons image.

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The United States Supreme Court denied a motion on Tuesday which argued that Na’i Aupuni organizers were violating a previous injunction that stopped an election that was designed to send delegates to a Native Hawaiian constitutional convention, or ‘aha, to take on matters of Native Hawaiian self-governance.

Members of the U.S. Supreme Court issued the injunction on Dec. 2. It continued a temporary stay issued a week earlier by Justice Anthony Kennedy, putting a halt to the voting process, including vote counting, until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals could issue a ruling on the lawsuit that challenged the election.

In response, Na’i Aupuni officials scrapped the election process and decided to extend an invite to all of the delegates to February’s ‘aha. Not long after that announcement, the same group of Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians that initially challenged the election filed the motion to the Supreme Court, arguing that extending seats to every delegate ignored the high court’s injunction.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision and grateful that we may continue on our path to the ‘aha,” Kuhio Asam, president of Na’i Aupuni, said in a statement. “We support and look forward to the participants, who are from varied backgrounds and with a wide range of beliefs, coming together to discuss and find common ground on manners in which to advance self-governance.”

Over 150 delegates have pledged to be a part of the four-week ‘aha. Peter Adler and Linda Colburn of The Mediation Center of the Pacific will serve as facilitators

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“The Supreme Court has only denied a temporary remedy related to our case. We remain confident that when the full case is argued before the Ninth Circuit Court or Supreme Court, it will prevail on its merits,” said Dr. Kelii Akina, Ph.D, Grassroot Institute President and one of the plaintiffs in the case. “In the end, we expect the U.S. Constitution to be upheld for the benefit of Native Hawaiians and all people of Hawai’i.

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“Regardless of what happens in the courts, this case has successfully exposed the agenda of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Na’i Aupuni, and the state when it comes to their nation-building scheme. They do not truly represent the people they purport to speak for. The public resources they are expending would be better utilized providing Hawaiians access to housing, job training, education, and health care.”

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