A federal court hearing is set over a lawsuit by people who want to put a stop to an election process that’s under way for Native Hawaiians. The lawsuit, filed in August, says it’s unconstitutional for the state to be involved in a race-based election. The state argues in court documents that while it had a role in compiling a roll of Native Hawaiians eligible to participate, it’s not involved in next month’s vote to elect delegates for a convention to determine self-governance for Native Hawaiians. Tuesday’s hearing is focused on the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. Plaintiffs want the judge to limit voter registration activities or stop the election altogether.
The plaintiffs include two non-Hawaiians who aren’t eligible for the roll, two Native Hawaiians who say their names appear on the roll without their consent and two Native Hawaiians who don’t agree with a declaration to “affirm the un-relinquished sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people, and my intent to participate in the process of self-determination.”
Native Hawaiians are the last remaining indigenous group in the U.S. that hasn’t been allowed to establish its own government. Former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka spent about a dozen years trying to get a bill passed that would give Native Hawaiians the same rights already extended to many Native Americans and Alaska Natives.