Hawaii’s Actions Violate 15th Amendment, Brief States

ALEXANDRIA, VA (Nov. 5) — A gross breach of equal rights under the law will occur in Hawaii if the courts do not stop a race-based election now underway and ending Nov. 30, a brief filed today at the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals by the American Civil Rights Union argues.

Submitted on behalf of the ACRU by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), the brief in Akina, et al. v. State of Hawaii notes that this is the second time that Hawaii has conducted a racially exclusionary election. The last time, appeals courts did not have time to review the law thoroughly before the election took place.

“The election of delegates [to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs] had occurred and tens of thousands of Hawaiian residents were denied the right to vote,” the brief states. “This court must not let that happen again….”

Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Hawaii’s justifications for having racially exclusive rolls and elections and declared that such ancestry tests violated the 15th Amendment, which bans racial tests by governments to register to vote and participate in the political process.

The plaintiffs in this case, who are Hawaiian residents, are asking the Ninth Circuit to issue an injunction to halt the election until a full appellate review is conducted and thus prevent Hawaii from getting away with an unconstitutional voter registration test a second time.

“The Supreme Court’s language in Rice v. Cayetano (2000) is sweeping in scope and unforgiving to racial tests to register to vote,” said J. Christian Adams, ACRU Policy Board member and president of PILF. “The right to register to vote on a government-run registration roll without passing an ancestry test is a fundamental Constitutional right. Hawaii escaped full review of this policy once before. It should not happen twice.”