Judicial Watch Files for Contempt in Supreme Court against State of Hawaii for Going Forward with Race-Based “Native Hawaiian-Only” Election
DECEMBER 23, 2015
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Motion for Civil Contempt against the State of Hawaii for its contravention of an injunction in the race-based “Native Hawaiian-only” election. The civil contempt motion alleges the State of Hawaii circumvented an order from the United States Supreme Court enjoining Hawaii from counting ballots or certifying winners in the election until a review of the case is completed by the Ninth Circuit Court. The Supreme Court filing arises out of a federal lawsuit on behalf of five Hawaiian residents and one Texas resident of Hawaiian descent who oppose the discriminatory election process (Keli’i Akina, et al. v. The State of Hawaii, et al. (No. 1:15-cv-00322)).
On August 28, Judicial Watch sought a preliminary injunction from the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to stop the vote that had been scheduled for November 2015, arguing that its clients would be denied the right to vote either because of their race or their political views, in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Hawaii’s Act 195 authorizes the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission (NHRC) to create a list of “Native Hawaiians” who would be eligible to elect delegates to a planned constitutional convention that would then prepare “governance documents” for a separate Native Hawaiian entity.
Ultimately, on December 2, the Supreme Court ordered an injunction stopping the race-based election, which reads:
The application for injunction pending appellate review presented to Justice Kennedy and by him referred to the Court is granted. Respondents are enjoined from counting the ballots cast in, and certifying the winners of, the election described in the application, pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Justice Ginsburg, Justice Breyer, Justice Sotomayor, and Justice Kagan would deny the application.
Hawaii violated the injunction on December 15, 2015, when the Na’i Apuni Foundation, a defendant in the case, allegedly acting on behalf of the State Hawaii, announced that all 196 candidates in the now-enjoined election will be seated at a February 1, 2016 constitutional convention to consider whether Native Hawaiians should seek some sort of federal tribal status. Thus, instead of counting the ballots and seating the 40 candidates receiving the most votes, the State of Hawaii, through its agents, declared every candidate running for delegate to be a winner, and plans to seat them all. Judicial Watch’s attorneys argue that Hawaii’s gamesmanship is intended to ensure the success of the Obama Interior Department’s controversial plan to recognize the new Hawaiian “tribe.”
The plaintiffs ask the Supreme Court to stop the plan to seat all candidates at the convention, to impose fines to ensure compliance, and to bring the State of Hawaii’s election-related actions under the supervision of federal courts.
“This is a constitutional crisis. That is why we are asking the United States Supreme Court to hold the State of Hawaii in contempt. Rather than stand down as the Supreme Court lawfully ordered, Hawaii plans to proceed with an unconstitutional, race-based, separatist election that violates the fundamental constitutional rights of American citizen clients,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We went to the Supreme Court because President Obama, whose administration is in cahoots with Hawaii public officials, obviously will not send troops to Hawaii to defend the rule of law, as President Eisenhower did to enforce the Supreme Court’s desegregation order in Little Rock.”
Robert Popper, director of Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project, is Judicial Watch’s lead attorney on the lawsuit and lead counsel for all plaintiffs. Mr. Popper was formerly deputy chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. Michael Lilly of the Honolulu law firm Ning, Lilly & Jones, a former Attorney General for Hawaii, is serving as Judicial Watch’s local counsel for the plaintiffs. H. Christopher Coates is also an attorney for the plaintiffs. Coates is an expert voting rights attorney who most recently served as Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department under President Barack Obama. William S. Consovoy and J. Michael Connolly of Consovoy McCarthy Park PLLC just joined as counsel as the litigation went before the Supreme Court.