U.S. Supreme Court to hear ceded lands case

documents The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the state’s appeal of a lower court decision that forbid the state from selling or exchanging ceded lands until a political settlement was reached with Native Hawaiians.” writes this morning’s Star-Bulletin article. It’s been suggested that this Writ of Cert. is another federalist, state’s rights push for land concessions– a resurfacing of the “Sagebrush Rebellion” or the movement to encourage the privatization of western public lands, which has been characterized as a deceitful attempt by vested interests to channel public treasure into private pockets. At risk, say groups of leading environmentalists, are the nation’s parks and wilderness lands, if not the very air we breathe and water we drink, writes Douglas Wentz. The problem with comparing this new ceded lands case with the “Sagebrush Rebellion” is that Hawai’i Constitution has a unique set of laws which distinguishes the management of the 1.2 million acres of “ceded lands” (otherwise known as “crown lands” or “stolen lands”), which is different from Nevada laws or any other of the 49 states. The Hawaii Supreme Court having ruled in favor of OHA ruled in accordance with the Hawai’i Constitution and Public Law 103-150, that Apology Bill. The Attorney General Mark Bennett, Governor Linda Lingle appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Hawai’i Supreme Court’s ruling. Judge Walter Heen says that the Supreme Court might be more interested in the weight of the decision given by the Hawaii Supreme Court to the Apology Resolution, and if that is the case, they may send the case back to Hawaii with instructions to take a different tack; to decide the case on other grounds, such as the interpretation of the Admissions Act, the OHA statutes, etc. The real danger though, given the conservative bent of the court, is that they might look at the total picture of OHA’s status, and how the OHA statutes stand the scrutiny of equal treatment under the U.S. Constitution. In other words, legislation based on native Hawaiian entitlements may be challenged in the Supreme Court as “unconstitutional,” and potentially dismantle all native Hawaiian entitlements as well as the Ali’i Trusts. There is a real and determined campaign challenging these trusts. Consider the new federal court lawsuit challenging Kamehameha School’s admission policy; the new rules at ‘Iolani Palace; and also the proposed Con Con, a convention that will most certainly challenge the OHA statutes and the Ali’i trusts. On the surface, what is at stake are the 1.2 million acres of the disputed land, but underlying that is truly the final nail in the coffin of any vestige of native Hawaiian rights or entitlements.]]>

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