A group of Hawaiians seeking to create a new tribal nation inside the state moved on Monday to head off a contempt order in the Supreme Court. They have done nothing to violate a Supreme Court order a month ago that blocked an election to select delegates to a convention to write a constitution, the group argued.
They told the Court that they were going ahead with a convention, and contended that they had a First Amendment right to do so. That appeared to be an attempt to prevent a further attempt to interrupt the path toward a new nation. Their defense of their actions in recent weeks was siupported by the state government.Several Hawaii residents have formally asked the Supreme Court to hold in contempt the private group that ran, and then ended, the election for delegates. The challengers argued that moving ahead to seat as delegates all those who had were candidates in the election ran counter to the Supreme Court’s Dec. 2 order that the election votes should not be counted or officially approved.
The private entity, named Na’i Aupuni, called off the election before it was finished after the Supreme Court had stepped in to interrupt it, based on a claim that the challengers that the election was race-based because only “native Hawaiians” were allowed to cast votes. That, the challengers said, violated their Fifteenth Amendment right to take part in a public event that had important implications for all who live in the state.
Rather than do nothing after the Supreme Court order was issued, Na’i Aupuni simply chose to go ahead with the planned convention, to be held in February. It announced last month that the 152 candidates will be invited to join as delegates, to work on the next step toward creating a tribal nation of native Hawaiians.
The Supreme Court’s early December order, the group contended, said nothing about holding the convention, and so there was no violation of that order by the cancelling of the election and then moving ahead with the planned meeting.
The Court is scheduled to consider the contempt plea at its private Conference on January 15.