U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Ceded Lands Dispute
Well, the good news is that the Supreme Court's ruling was very limited in its scope and language so it cannot be used by opponents in their attempts to dismantle native Hawaiian resources. The Supreme Court did, however, rule unanimously that the Apology Resolution did not cloud the State of Hawai'i's legal title to the ceded lands. The case has been remanded back to the state courts for further action and decision.
With the media's phrasing in its headlines yesterday (e.g., "Native Hawaiians Lose In Top Court," Justices Limit The Reach of Apology to Native Hawaiians") I can understand the potential for disappointment and even anger. However, I want to caution us to be calm and pono in our response. I'm attaching a press release from Kupu'aina Coalition which urges us to look past the headlines to the actual and practical result of yesterday's Supreme Court decision. Indeed, by returning the case to state courts, to be determined in line with state law, the Supreme Court limited its own reach to decide a case like this. The bottomline: the state of Hawai'i's attempt to obtain a federal "stamp of approval" on its actions has actually failed because the Supreme Court limited its own reach and restored this case to the proper venue: home in the islands.
Mahalo to those who prayed and even fasted back in February on the day the high court was hearing this case. Let's continue to pray for Ke Akua's guidance for state lawmakers and state judges who will now decide this case as it moves forward.
PRESS RELEASE FROM KUPU'AINA COALITION:
(For more info, go to http://www.stopsellingcededlands.com/)
From: Kupuaina Coalition <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: March 31, 2009 9:09:06 AM HST
Subject: Listen to the local media with caution regarding "ceded" lands decision
Aloha mai kakou,
You may have heard by now that the United States Supreme Court has ruled on the "ceded" lands case. Unfortunately, several local media outlets do not explain the Supreme Court ruling adequately and, in my opinion, may inadvertently mis-lead the public.
Upon first glance, anyone might come to the conclusion that the State of Hawai'i can sell ceded lands. But, Kupu'aina reads the opinion differently. When the Hawai'i Supreme Court made its landmark ruling last year placing a moratorium on the sale of "ceded" lands, it did so using both the 1993 Apology Resolution AND relevant state law. When the U.S. Supreme Court came out with its ruling this morning, it only ruled on the 1993 Apology Resolution and not state law. In fact, at the end of its decision, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that it has no authority to decide questions of Hawai'i state law or to provide redress for past wrongs except as provided for by federal law. The U.S. Supreme Court sent the case back down to the Hawai'i Supreme Court to proceed in a manner that is consistent with the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling.
The Attorney General Mark Bennett, sought to take this "ceded" lands case out of the Hawai'i Supreme Court. Now, however, the U.S. Supreme Court has put the case back into the hands of the State Supreme Court.
This morning there are two good interviews on the KGMB website that is helpful to people who want to understand today's ruling.
There is an interview with
Clyde Namuo (OHA Administrator) http://tr.im/Namuo090331 and
Colleen Hanabusa (Hawaii Senate President http://tr.im/Hanabusa090331.
Clyde Namuo explains how this ruling is exactly what the Office of Hawaiian Affairs hoped for once the Supreme Court decided to take up the case. Generally, the reason is because the ruling puts the case back into State court. Senator Hanabusa also explains why, the State, still can't sell "ceded" lands at this time. Hanabusa's statements are contrary to today's Honolulu Advertiser headline which reads, "US Supreme Court says state can sell ceded lands."
Kupu‘āina encourages the public to read the U.S. Supreme Court's short opinion on this issue rather than rely only on media reports. You can access the opinion at www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/08slipopinion.html
-- Kupu‘āina Coalitionstopsellingcededlands.com As well, we know we must address the sense of betrayal that many in our Native Hawaiian community feel on the issue of ceded lands, and in particular the case now pending before the United States Supreme Court. We will not turn a deaf ear to these questions, as difficult as they may be. We have heard the call of the people and we must respond. -- Colleen Hanabusa January 21, 2009