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Wednesday, October 4, 2000

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Moiliili man files
suit against programs,
funding for Hawaiians

By Pat Omandam

The state government is facing its second lawsuit in as many days that challenges programs and funding for native Hawaiians, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Rice vs. Cayetano case.

State attorneys said, however, the state will stand by its commitment to Hawaiians and fight these attacks. "It's our position that OHA is constitutional, that the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands is constitutional, and we'll vigorously defend their constitutionality," said state Deputy Attorney General Girard Lau.

Gov. Ben Cayetano said the state will defend the constitutionality of OHA and Hawaiian programs, according to Kim Murakawa, his spokeswoman.

Attorney John Goemans filed a lawsuit yesterday in U.S. District Court that challenges the validity of the Hawaiian-affairs section of the state Constitution.

If successful, the case could eliminate cornerstone programs such as the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, which the state manages on behalf of the federal government; the Office of Hawaiian Affairs; as well as laws that affirm and protect traditional and customary gathering rights for native Hawaiians.

The lawsuit was filed late yesterday in U.S. District Court by Goemans on behalf of Patrick Barrett, a disabled Moiliili resident in his early 50s who has followed the Rice case ever since Harold "Freddy" Rice filed his discrimination lawsuit against the state.

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment and an injunction barring the state from operating the Hawaiian Homes program and OHA. The lawsuit also says the state's laws governing native gathering rights is an exercise of police power on private property without a compelling government purpose or compensation to landowners.

Goemans, who served as Rice's lawyer in the case and helped get it on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, points to the decision last Feb. 23 that said native Hawaiians are a racial classification and not an Indian tribe.

"It's quite simple," Goemans said yesterday. "Because of Rice, it's race. Because it's race, all (Hawaiian) programs are presumed unconstitutional -- all governmental, federal, state, municipal, whatever it happens to be."

Lau, however, said the Rice decision did not affect any state programs for native Hawaiians. "Absolutely not," he said.

OHA Chairman Clayton Hee said he believes the lawsuit filed on Monday by U.S. Senate candidate John Carroll is politically motivated. That lawsuit seeks to stop the state from paying ceded-land revenues to OHA and to stop OHA from using its trust funds only for Hawaiians.

Carroll, who is running against U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, realizes he may not get the Hawaiian vote in November and therefore is focusing on non-Hawaiian voters, Hee said.

OHA Special

Rice vs. Cayetano arguments

Rice vs. Cayetano decision

Holo I Mua: Sovereignty Roundtable

E-mail to City Desk

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