Per Curiam Opinion
From the 9th Circuit Court, August 29, 2016
The panel dismissed plaintiffs’ interlocutory appeal as moot and affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion to intervene in a lawsuit brought by Hawaii residents who challenged efforts by a group of Native Hawaiians to establish their own government, in accordance with measures approved by the Hawaii Legislature.
Plaintiffs appealed from the district court’s order denying their request for a preliminary injunction to stop activities related to the drafting and ratification of self-governance documents. The panel noted that the challenged election had been cancelled, that plaintiffs did not argue that similar elections will occur in the future, that a ratification vote on a draft constitution had not been called and that no other ratification elections were scheduled. The panel further noted that one of the defendants had dissolved as a non-profit corporation and any future election would likely be held by an entity that was not a party to this litigation. Given those changed circumstances, the panel concluded that the court could not provide any effective relief sought in the preliminary injunction request. The panel held that plaintiffs’ appeal did not fall within an exception to the mootness doctrine.
The panel also affirmed the district court’s denial of a motion to intervene as of right in the plaintiffs’ underlying lawsuit. The prospective intervenors, who qualified as Native Hawaiians under a definition that was narrower than that established by the Hawaii Legislature, sought to challenge the more liberal definition, and the creation of a Native Hawaiian government based on that definition, as well as the related expenditure of state trust funds intended to benefit Native Hawaiians. The panel held that to the extent that the proposed intervenors sought to stop the delegate and ratification elections, their appeal was moot. To the extent they sought to intervene on other grounds, the panel agreed with the district court that the prospective intervenors’ interests would not, as a practical matter, be impaired or impeded as a result of the plaintiffs’ litigation. The panel agreed that the proposed intervenors’ claims would raise entirely different issues from those raised by the plaintiffs, and that the proposed intervenors could adequately protect their interests in separate litigation.
PDF: Full Text Court Ruling
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Grassroot Institute Affirms Results of Lawsuit Despite 9th Circuit Ruling
Watchdog group says suit has been successful in educating the public about problems with nation-building process
News Release from Grassroot Institute
HONOLULU, HAWAII -- (August 29, 2016) -- In the wake of the latest ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii affirmed the overall results of the Akina v. State of Hawaii litigation. According to the Institute, the suit has been very successful in educating the public about the problems in the state's nation-building process.
With the help of the group Judicial Watch, a group of Native Hawaiians and other concerned citizens brought suit against the state for launching an unconstitutional election. The plaintiffs then sought a preliminary injunction that would halt any race-based vote. Because the ratification of the Native Hawaiian Constitution has been indefinitely suspended--and because Na'i Aupuni, one of the defendants, has been dissolved--the Ninth Circuit dismissed the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction as moot.
"Overall, our litigation is achieving its objectives. Through the course of this lawsuit, we have seen the state cancel one unconstitutional election and postpone another one indefinitely," stated Keli'i Akina, Ph.D., President of the Grassroot Institute and a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "We have seen Na'i Aupuni--the organization that was created for the purpose of holding the election--shut down. And thanks to our efforts, more questions are being asked about how funds intended for the benefit of Native Hawaiians should be spent."
Dr. Akina continued: "At present, we are reviewing all of our options regarding the decision in order to determine what our next step will be. We cannot forget that during oral arguments, the defendants claimed that OHA has set aside money for a ratification vote. The state has not yet discarded its disastrous nation-building plans, but this suit has put them on notice. We will not allow an unconstitutional and divisive election to go forward, unchallenged, in Hawaii," Dr. Akina concluded.
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii reaffirmed its commitment to defending the Constitution and expressing the concerns of Native Hawaiians opposed to the state's race-based nation-building process.
About the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, the free market, and limited, accountable government throughout Hawai`i and the Asia-Pacific region. Read more about us at http://www.grassrootinstitute.org/
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About Grassroot President: Keli’i Akina, Ph.D., is a recognized scholar, educator, public policy spokesperson, and community leader in Hawaii. Currently, he is President/CEO of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, a public policy think tank dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, free markets and limited, accountable government. An expert in East-West Philosophy and ethics, Dr. Akina has taught at universities in China and the United States and continues as an adjunct instructor at Hawaii Pacific University.
AP: Court denies appeal in case about Native Hawaiian election