By: OHA Chair Rowena M.N. Akana
March 22, 1999
Source: Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Media Release
HONOLULU–As you all are surely aware, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal in the case of Rice vs. Cayetano. This comes as no surprise, however unpleasant. This case has been doggedly appealed to the highest court in the land, which I am hopeful will let stand the previous decisions by District Court Judge David Ezra and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals justices. It is especially worth noting that Senator Daniel K. Akaka has echoed this sentiment in an earlier statement today. As noted by our distinguished senator, The Ninth Circuit correctly determined that the OHA voting restriction “is not primarily racial, but legal and political.” I fully agree with Senator Akaka that the Supreme Court should without hesitation affirm that principle. Additionally, we share the view that this is a political question better left to Congress, the State of Hawai’i, and Native Hawaiians.
If there is a silver lining regarding the Supreme Court’s willingness to take this case to another level, it is that we once and for all will end the incessant challenges by Mr. Rice to the rights of the indigenous people of these lands. I am confident that our Attorney General will represent the interests of the Hawaiian people to the fullest extent. I will do what I can to assist our Attorney General to ensure that we never allow the clock to be turned back to a time when the rights of the minority, indigenous people, were trampled under foot of the majority.