Archive for February, 2010

10th Anniversary of Rice v. Cayetano decision — civil rights vs. Akaka bill

Rice v. Cayetano was the most important civil rights lawsuit in the history of the State of Hawaii. The February 23, 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision spurred a decade of additional civil rights lawsuits seeking to abolish or desegregate Hawaii’s empire of government and private race-based programs. Racial separatists immediately sought protection for those programs through the Hawaiian Government Reorganization bill (Akaka bill) still being pushed in Congress ten years later.

The Rice decision abolished racial segregation in Hawaii elections. The state Constitution had said only ethnic Hawaiians could vote for trustees of the state government agency “Office of Hawaiian Affairs.” Thanks to the Rice decision all registered voters now have equal voting rights regardless of race. A followup federal lawsuit, Arakaki#1, further desegregated OHA by removing the racial restriction on candidacy for OHA trustees. Thanks to Arakaki#1 all registered voters now have equal rights to run as candidates for all state government offices regardless of race. In Summer 2000 Governor Ben Cayetano won a legal battle and ousted all nine OHA trustees, because they had been illegally elected. In November there were 96 candidates for the nine seats. At least a dozen OHA candidates had no Hawaiian native blood, and one of them won a seat on the board. There were numerous proposals for ways to dodge the Supreme Court decision by various methods, including bills in the Legislature that would have transfered the assets of OHA and DHHL to a private racially exclusionary trust fund.

The battle for civil rights in Hawaii gained huge momentum from the Rice decision, and continues today against entrenched opposition. Strong language in the Rice decision (see quotes below) emboldened civil rights activists to file several lawsuits during the following ten years, seeking to dismantle or desegregate Hawaii’s empire of powerful, wealthy race-based government and private institutions. But the lawsuits attacking government programs were dismissed for technical reasons focusing on “standing” and the “political question” doctrine. The lawsuits attacking the racially exclusionary admissions policy at Kamehameha Schools were settled by large payouts to plaintiffs before any precedent-setting decision could be handed down. Since none of these government or Kamehameha lawsuits was decided on the merits, all issues remain open to future litigation.

In the meantime Hawaii’s empire of race-based institutions has sought protection through the Akaka bill, which would authorize creation of a racially-exclusionary government resembling an Indian tribe that could enfold the race-based institutions under its jurisdiction. The bill has passed the U.S. House on two occasions, but failed on a cloture vote in the Senate due to opposition from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a public veto threat from President Bush. On the tenth anniversary of the Rice decision it’s still not clear whether the Akaka bill will be enacted into law, and whether it could survive eventual Supreme Court scrutiny.

For a detailed description and analysis of the Rice decision, and the legal and political battles it spawned throughout the past decade (including Arakaki#1, Barrett, Carroll, Arakaki#2, Kamehameha Schools, Kuroiwa, DHHL property tax, and Akaka bill) see a new webpage created to commemorate the tenth anniversary:

For an explanation of the “big picture” in which the Rice decision and the Akaka bill are important brush strokes, see a 302-page book “Hawaiian Apartheid: Racial Separatism and Ethnic Nationalism in the Aloha State” at

The role of religion in Hawaiian history and sovereignty

A new webpage has been created regarding the role of religion in Hawaiian history and sovereignty. It analyzes how the ancient native Hawaiian religion is being revived to serve the political goal of establishing race-based sovereignty. It describes how the native religion and Christian religion shaped culture and politics in the Kingdom of Hawaii. It includes a compilation of selected webpages and books on these topics. The new webpage is at

Hawaii legislators believe establishing casinos on native Hawaiian Homelands would not contradict the Akaka bill

We all know that the State of Hawaii government has terrible budget problems. There are bills in the Legislature to legalize gambling as a source of revenue.

One of those bills is to establish gambling casinos on the native Hawaiian Homelands. The bill HB2759 HD2 has already passed second reading with approval by two committees (Hawaiian Affairs, and Judiciary) and now awaits a hearing by the Finance Committee.

This information should raise many doubts in the minds of Congressional Representatives and Senators who have been relying on assurances from the Hawaii delegation that the Akaka bill prohibits gambling by the Akaka tribe.

Even though the Akaka bill has language which seems to prohibit the Akaka tribe from gambling, that language could nevertheless be evaded. Suppose the State grants a license to establish casinos on the Hawaiian Homelands, and does so before the Akaka bill is passed and before the tribe gets certified by the Secretary of Interior. The tribe might be able to keep the casinos despite language in the Akaka bill prohibiting them, on the theory that the Constitution says Congress cannot pass ex-post-facto laws. The Akaka tribe could ask a court to nullify the Akaka bill’s prohibition on gambling without fear of nullifying the rest of the bill, because the bill has a severability clause.

Following are excerpts from a lengthy Honolulu Advertiser article of Sunday, February 14, 2010 about legislation for gambling.

The excerpts show that Hawaii legislators, including the Chair of the House Committee on Hawaiian Affairs, believe casinos could be placed on native Hawaiian homelands without interfering with the Akaka bill.

“Gambling interests spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying and public relations in Hawai’i nearly a decade ago, tempting state lawmakers with new tax revenue from a grand resort and casino. Nothing happened. This year, with no similar lobbying blitz, state House lawmakers have opened the door to legalized gambling, either through a single casino on O’ahu or casinos on Hawaiian home lands. … Even the talk of the state allowing casinos on Hawaiian home lands may undercut years of assurances in Washington, D.C., by Inouye and U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka that federal recognition for Native Hawaiians would not lead to gambling as it has on Indian reservations. … [G]ambling bill pending before the House Finance Committee would give the Hawaiian Homes Commission the authority to allow casinos on Hawaiian home lands. … The Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill — known as the Akaka bill — prohibits gambling by a new Hawaiian governing authority that would negotiate with the state and federal governments over land use and cultural issues. Inouye and Akaka added the prohibition, aides say, to answer critics who have suggested that federal recognition is a potential back door to legalized gambling. … State Rep. Mele Carroll, D-13th (E. Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i), the chairwoman of the House Hawaiian Affairs Committee, who introduced the gambling bill, said she supports federal recognition and does not want to interfere with the debate in Washington. But she added that she wants Hawaiians to have a discussion about casino gambling as a potential revenue source. ‘They know that my intent is not to take away from the Akaka bill,’ Carroll said.”

Podcasts of speeches by Jere Krischel and Leon Siu opposing the Akaka bill

On January 15, 2010 there was a public forum on the Akaka bill. Pollster John Zogby gave a slide presentation of the results of his poll on the Akaka bill that was released in December, and answered questions.

Results of the Zogby poll are at

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs was invited to send a spokesperson to give a speech and answer questions, but at the last minute OHA backed out. Ten-minute speeches opposing the Akaka bill were given by civil rights activist Jere Krischel and by ethnic Hawaiian sovereignty activist Leon Siu.

Jere Krischel published an essay based on his speech, at

An audio podcast of the speech by Jere Krischel is at

And an audio podcast of the speech by Leon Siu is at