« Judge cuts Boston Globe reporter some Slack | Main | Caprice Caprice confronts Supreme Court »

March 10, 2011

Hawaii will stay in the United States, judge says

Hawaii will be staying in the United States, for the time being.

This week, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the 19th century annexation of the islands. Still, the lawsuit by David Keanu Sai does offer an interesting history lesson, for those who want to know more about the growth of the American empire.

As the judge notes:

"Near the end of the nineteenth century, American business interests were dominating the islands and creating tensions with pro-native, anti-Western interests...In 1893, a group of professionals and businessmen, with the active assistance of John Stevens, the United States Minister to Hawaii, acting with United States Armed Forces, replaced the monarchy with a provisional government that sought annexation by the United States. The overthrow of the Hawaiian government was effected on January 17, 1893."

Hmm, sure sounds familiar...

Anyway, Sai claimed the annexation was unconstitutional. He tried putting money where his mouth is, having created in the 1990s the Hawaiian Kingdom Trust Company to serve as provisional government of the islands. That did not end well, for reasons further spelled out in the judge's decision.

Judge Kollar-Kotelly dismissed the lawsuit, not least because it's beyond her judicial power. She explained:

"The federal courts have long recognized that the determination of sovereignty over a territory is fundamentally a political question beyond the jurisdiction of the courts."




TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Hawaii will stay in the United States, judge says:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Apparently, if the court determines something is "a political issue", the law no longer applies.

That is the heart of this ruling.


I periodically check the website that provides current information on the lawsuit at (http://hawaiiankingdom.org/sai-obama.shtml), and it provided information that the plaintiff, Dr. Keanu Sai, filed a motion to reconsider the order on March 13, 2011 (http://hawaiiankingdom.org/pdf/Reconsider.pdf), where he addressed the specific issue of "determination of sovereignty over territory" and the case referenced by the Court to support the dismissal. In the motion he qualified the use of the political question doctrine and its misapplication in the lawsuit. On the following day House Concurrent Resolution 107 was introduced in the State of Hawaii legislature creating a joint investigative committee to investigate into the status of the 1893 executive agreements which was the basis of Sai's federal lawsuit (http://hawaiiankingdom.org/pdf/Notice_HCR107.pdf). As a person living in Hawaii, I can say that this lawsuit has created a buzz. This is an interesting time in the history of Hawaii.

The comments to this entry are closed.



"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

Send a suggestion or news tip. Read Mike's stories at news.mcclatchydc.com.

Follow Mike on Twitter: @MichaelDoyle10

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


    Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4 5 6
    7 8 9 10 11 12 13
    14 15 16 17 18 19 20
    21 22 23 24 25 26 27
    28 29 30 31