by Andrew Walden
"Shame on this court. This court is incompetent." The shouting from angry Hawaiian Homelands beneficiaries ended with Sam Kealoha Jr being removed from today's Federal Court hearing in Akina v Hawaii.
Plaintiffs led by Grassroot Institute President Keli'i Akina were asking the court to enjoin Nai Aupuni from conducting an election designed to select delegates to write a 'Hawaiian' tribal constitution in spite of the fact that Hawaiians are not American Indians. Voting is set to begin November 1.
Kealoha's outburst came after Seabright refused to hear from attorney Walter Schoettle who had earlier been denied the right to intervene on behalf of Hawaiian Homelands beneficiaries. After Kealoha was removed, Seabright relented, allowing Schoettle to make a statement.
Schoettle, who has previously litigated on behalf of Hawaiian Homes beneficiaries including Kealoha, pointed out: "This case has nothing to do with Native Hawaiians (as defined by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act). This is about $500 million dollars of OHA money in exchange for surrendering Native Hawaiian rights."
With US Department of Justice attorney Sam Hirsch listening in by speakerphone from Washington, US District Court Judge Seabright did his job as part of the local power structure and, as expected, rejected plaintiffs on nearly every claim.
Seabright based his lengthy oral ruling on a finding that Nai Aupuni was conducting a private election rather than a State election in spite of the fact that Nai Aupuni is a State contractor funded by the State of Hawaii, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and is using a voter roll assembled by the Kanaiolowalu Roll Commission which was created by Hawaii Act 195 and appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie.
The only points on which Seabright favored the plaintiffs were standing and timeliness.
Plaintiff attorney Bob Popper informed the court that "Plaintiffs are planning an appeal."
Interviewed by Hawai'i Free Press, Schoettle says he too is planning litigation.
Seabright said he expects to have a written order available in about a week.
LINK: Akina v Hawaii: The Documents