Justification in Law

The Truth. And its appli­ca­tions in law.

God hath made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on the earth in uni­ty and blessed­ness.
—the first line of The Dec­la­ra­tion of Rights, Both of the Peo­ple and Chiefs (1839), regard­ed as the Hawai­ian equiv­a­lent to England’s Magna Car­ta

Hawai’i was, by right and def­i­n­i­tion, an inde­pen­dent nation.  To under­stand the appli­ca­tion of laws that oblig­es the U.S. and the coun­tries of the world to observe the emer­gence of Hawai­ian nation­hood, there are points in fact and points in law that must be acknowl­edged first.

Major Events in the Political History of Hawai’i

On Octo­ber 8, 1840, King Kame­hame­ha III autho­rized the Hawai­ian King­dom Con­sti­tu­tion, which described the shar­ing of gov­ern­men­tal pow­er between the monarch and the par­lia­ment.  This doc­u­ment marked Hawai’i’s depar­ture from absolute monar­chism.  The Con­sti­tu­tion demon­strat­ed the King’s com­mit­ment to domes­tic wel­fare and adher­ence to the law of nations.

In Jan­u­ary of 1893, before Queen Lili’uokalani could insti­tute a revised con­sti­tu­tion with more demo­c­ra­t­ic reforms (i.e., allow­ing all sub­jects the right to vote, as opposed to just male landown­ers), the law­ful gov­ern­ment of Hawai’i was over­thrown in a coup d’état devised by a group of wealthy landown­ers advo­cat­ing annex­a­tion to the Unit­ed States.  They were aid­ed in this stroke of state by the U.S. for­eign min­is­ter to Hawai’i and a detach­ment of U.S. Marines.

Demand­ing rem­e­dy for this unlaw­ful act, Queen Lili’uokalani sent her for­mal let­ter of protest to U.S. Pres­i­dent Grover Cleve­land.  While Cleve­land did insist on the rein­state­ment of Hawai’i’s law­ful gov­ern­ment, the annex­a­tion­ists’ friends in the U.S. Con­gress wait­ed for a pres­i­dent sym­pa­th­ic to their agen­da.  They got their wish with the 1896 elec­tion of William McKin­ley.

The annex­a­tion­ists installed their gov­ern­ment de fac­to, renamed the nation the Repub­lic of Hawai’i, then con­veyed the islands to the Unit­ed States on August 12, 1898.  All Hawai­ian sub­jects — both kana­ka maoli (per­sons of abo­rig­i­nal Hawai­ian ances­try) and kanaka’e (those of for­eign eth­nic­i­ty) — were col­lec­tive­ly nat­u­ral­ized as U.S. nation­als on that day.

Elements of a Nation

There are four con­di­tions to qual­i­fy as a nation: Ter­ri­to­ry, Pop­u­la­tion, Sov­er­eign­ty, and Gov­ern­ment.  These are accept­ed stan­dards that are artic­u­lat­ed in pub­lic inter­na­tion­al law. Before it was annexed to the Unit­ed States, the King­dom of Hawai’i ful­filled these qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

With­out a doc­u­ment from the law­ful Hawai­ian Gov­ern­ment con­sent­ing to U.S. occu­pa­tion, the ces­sion of the Hawai­ian Islands to the Unit­ed States depend­ed on the removal or obfus­ca­tion of these four con­di­tions of nation­hood.

GOVERNMENT was the first to be sus­pend­ed: the monarch was removed and the par­lia­ment emp­tied.  This sep­a­rat­ed the cit­i­zen­ry from their elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives and impaired their abil­i­ty to exer­cise their polit­i­cal author­i­ty — their SOVEREIGNTY.  The absence of a chief exec­u­tive and a leg­isla­tive body made it pos­si­ble for the gov­ern­ment of the annex­a­tion­ists to con­vey con­trol of the islands to Amer­i­ca, there­by reclas­si­fy­ing the entire Hawai­ian POPULATION as U.S. nation­als.

It is the uncon­firmed sta­tus of the final con­di­tion — TERRITORY — that revealed the imper­fect claim the Unit­ed States has on the Hawai­ian Islands.

And it was shown for all the world to see in 1993.

The Queen’s Protest Letter and the U.S. Apology Resolution

The 1893 Protest Let­ter of Queen Lili’uokalani is an appli­ca­tion in inter­na­tion­al law.  In the let­ter, she pro­claims her “protest against any and all acts done against myself and the Con­sti­tu­tion­al Gov­ern­ment of the Hawai­ian King­dom…”  Fur­ther in this doc­u­ment, she demands the undo­ing of the wrong­ful actions of the Unit­ed States.  Amaz­ing­ly, the guilty par­ty — the U.S. Con­gress — respond­ed to this law appli­ca­tion.

A cen­tu­ry lat­er, U.S. Sen­a­tor Daniel Aka­ka includes the Queen’s Protest Let­ter in a res­o­lu­tion he intro­duces to Con­gress.  Either by acci­dent or by design, his “Apol­o­gy Res­o­lu­tion” expos­es the truth of who law­ful­ly pos­sess­es Hawai’i.

On Novem­ber 23, 1993, this joint res­o­lu­tion is signed by U.S. Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton.  For­mal­ly known as U.S. Pub­lic Law 103 – 150, it acknowl­edges the over­throw of the King­dom of Hawai’i and apol­o­gizes to Native Hawai­ians for the Unit­ed States’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in the over­throw.  A joint res­o­lu­tion adopt­ed by both hous­es of Con­gress and signed by the Pres­i­dent has the effect of a law.

And as law doc­u­ments go, this is a signed con­fes­sion.  With­in its text is this admis­sion: “…the indige­nous Hawai­ian peo­ple nev­er direct­ly relin­quished their claims to their inher­ent sov­er­eign­ty as a peo­ple or over their nation­al lands to the Unit­ed States, either through their monar­chy or through a plebiscite or ref­er­en­dum;”

Why would Con­gress allow such a state­ment into Unit­ed States Pub­lic Law? To dis­tin­guish its lia­bil­i­ty.  The U.S. gov­ern­ment knows that it does not law­ful­ly pos­sess the Hawai­ian Islands. The gov­ern­ments of the Unit­ed States and the State of Hawai’i pre­side in the islands in the absence of the gov­ern­ment de jure.  The U.S. also knows that if the law­ful gov­ern­ment does not step for­ward to answer this apol­o­gy, it can con­tin­ue to legal­ly claim domin­ion over Hawai’i.

In order to show the world that it is com­ply­ing with the prin­ci­ples of inter­na­tion­al law, the Unit­ed States was required only to offer a means of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.  But the U.S. is nei­ther oblig­ed to rebuild the law­ful gov­ern­ment nor is it respon­si­ble to show the Hawai­ian peo­ple how to do it. That is the job of the kana­ka maoli.

It was the bur­den of the kana­ka maoli to rebuild the gov­ern­ment that could answer the apol­o­gy and keep the Unit­ed States in com­pli­ance with the terms of inter­na­tion­al law.  The three branch­es of gov­ern­ment were erect­ed, a dis­tinct pop­u­la­tion was iden­ti­fied, and the inher­ent sov­er­eign­ty would be restored.

This was no sim­ple task.

Efforts toward man­i­fest­ing this author­i­ty began on June 8, 1996.

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