Rice v. Cayetano, CIV. No. 96-00390 DAE.

CourtSupreme Court of Hawai'i
Citation963 F.Supp. 1547
Docket NumberCIV. No. 96-00390 DAE.
PartiesHarold F. RICE, Plaintiff, v. Benjamin J. CAYETANO, Governor of the State of Hawai`i, Defendant.
Decision Date06 May 1997
963 F.Supp. 1547
Harold F. RICE, Plaintiff,
Benjamin J. CAYETANO, Governor of the State of Hawai`i, Defendant.
CIV. No. 96-00390 DAE.
United States District Court, D. Hawai`i.
May 6, 1997.

David L. Ross, Law Offices of David L. Ross, Los Angeles, CA, John W. Goemans,

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Law Offices of John W. Goemans, Kamuela, HI, for Harold Rice.

Winfred K.T. Pong, Deborah Day Emerson, Office of the Attorney General-State of Hawai`i, Honolulu, HI, John P. Dellera, Department of the Attorney General, Honolulu, HI, for Benjamin J. Cayetano.

Winfred K.T. Pong, Deborah Day Emerson, Office of the Attorney General-State of Hawai`i, Honolulu, HI, for Mazie K. Hirono.


DAVID ALAN EZRA, District Judge.

On February 26, 1997, Plaintiff Harold Rice filed for partial summary judgment on his remaining claim that the voting requirements for elections for the Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs violate the Constitution and the laws of the United States. On February 28, 1997, Defendant Benjamin Cayetano, Governor of the State of Hawaii, filed for partial summary judgment on the same issue. The court heard argument on these motions on April 28, 1997. John Goemans, Esq., appeared on behalf of Plaintiff; Deputy Attorney General Lynette Matsushima appeared on behalf of Defendant. After reviewing the motions and the supporting and opposing memoranda, the court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and GRANTS Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment.


Plaintiff Harold Rice ("Plaintiff") brought the instant action challenging his exclusion from voting for the Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and from voting in the Special Election ("Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Election") held August 1996. This court has previously addressed Plaintiff's challenge to his exclusion from participating in the Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Election. Rice v. Cayetano, 941 F.Supp. 1529 (D.Haw.1996).

The pertinent facts are undisputed. Plaintiff was born and currently lives in Hawaii as a citizen, taxpayer and qualified elector of the United States, the State of Hawaii, and the County of Hawaii. He traces his ancestry to two members of the legislature of the Kingdom of Hawaii, prior to the Revolution of 1893. Plaintiff, however, is Caucasian and is not within the definition of Hawaiian or Native Hawaiian.1

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs ("OHA") was established in 1978 by the Constitutional Convention and the voters of Hawaii for the purpose of establishing an office to address the needs of "the aboriginal class of people of Hawaii," as a means to satisfy the State's responsibility under the Admission Act to utilize the public lands trust for the betterment of Native Hawaiians. HRS §§ 10-1, 10-3. OHA is funded partly by legislative appropriations and partly by a pro rata portion of the receipts from the public lands trust created by the Admission Act. HRS §§ 10-13, 10-13.5. OHA is governed by a board of trustees who must be Hawaiian. HRS § 13D-1. Only Hawaiians and Native Hawaiians may participate in the election for the OHA trustees. HRS § 13D-3.

In March 1996, Plaintiff applied to vote in the election for the Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The registration form contained the following declaration: "I am also Hawaiian and desire to register to vote in OHA elections." Plaintiff deleted the phrase "am also Hawaiian and" and marked "yes" on the application. Plaintiff's application was subsequently denied.

Plaintiff now seeks a declaration that this election premises the right to vote upon racial qualifications, and therefore violates the Fourteenth Amendment and the Fifteenth

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Amendment of the United States Constitution.


Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) provides for summary judgment when:

... the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.

The movant bears the initial burden of "identifying ... those portions of the material on file that it believes demonstrates the absence of any genuine issue of material fact." T.W.Elec. Serv., Inc. v. Pacific Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir.1987) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 2552-53, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). If the movant has met its burden, then "the non-moving party must show that there are `genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be in favor of either party.'" California Architectural Bldg. Prod. v. Franciscan Ceramics, 818 F.2d 1466, 1468 (9th Cir.1987) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249-51, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 2511, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1006, 108 S.Ct. 698, 98 L.Ed.2d 650 (1988). When the "evidence" produced by each side conflicts, "the judge must assume the truth of the evidence set forth by the opposing party with respect to that fact." Inferences from the facts, disputed and undisputed alike, must be drawn in the light most favorable to the opposing party. T.W. Elec., 809 F.2d at 631. These genuine factual issues must be supported by significant probative evidence. Commodity Futures Trading Comm'n v. Savage, 611 F.2d 270, 282 (9th Cir.1979). Hence, the non-moving party may not stand on its pleadings or merely assert it will controvert the movant's evidence at trial. See T.W. Elec., 809 F.2d at 630. Simple disagreement about a material issue of fact, therefore, no longer precludes the use of summary judgment. California Architectural Bldg. Prod., 818 F.2d at 1468.


Plaintiff and Defendant each move for partial summary judgment on the issue of whether the election for the Board of Trustees of OHA violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments by restricting the franchise to those of Hawaiian ancestry.2

I. Restriction on Franchise

Plaintiff argues that the restriction on his right to vote is based purely on racial classifications and is therefore violative of the Fourteenth3 and Fifteenth4 Amendments. Plaintiff maintains that Native Hawaiians are a racial rather than political group. Moreover, Plaintiff contends that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Morton v. Mancari, 417 U.S. 535, 94 S.Ct. 2474, 41 L.Ed.2d 290 (1974) is not controlling because Native Hawaiians are not a recognized Indian tribe.

Defendant, on the other hand, relies heavily upon Morton as holding that legislation singling out aboriginal peoples for particularized treatment is evaluated using the rational basis test. Defendant argues that Native Hawaiians have a special relationship to the Federal Government which is similar to the historically unique relationship between mainland American Indian tribes and the Federal Government underlying the Morton decision. Consequently, Defendant maintains

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that although Native Hawaiians are not yet a federally recognized tribe or quasi-sovereign tribal entity, the rational basis test is properly applied to the instant situation because the franchise classification is not racial, but political.

In further support, Defendant notes that the Native Hawaiian community is one marked for rehabilitation and special consideration by Congress, Ahuna v. Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, 64 Haw. 327, 336, 640 P.2d 1161 (1982), that the State of Hawaii has a unique obligation to the Native Hawaiian population with fiduciary duties similar to those owed by the federal government to Native Americans, and that the State has a special responsibility to protect traditional rights of access to land for subsistence, cultural and religious purposes. Moreover, Defendant argues that Congress has indicated that Native Hawaiians have a special relationship with the Federal Government paralleling that with Native Americans by grouping Native Hawaiians with Native American groups for various special benefits programs.5

Finally, Defendant contends that the rational basis test has been met. Defendant declares that OHA ensures that Native Hawaiians will receive a direct beneficial interest from the public lands as intended by the Admission Act, thereby fulfilling the State's trust obligations and responsibilities to Native Hawaiians. Defendant maintains that limiting the franchise to those OHA's actions directly affected is rationally related to the governmental interest of fulfilling congressionally imposed trust obligations. Defendant additionally asserts that the interests of those disadvantaged by the classification is minimal.

A. Equal Protection

As a general matter, legislation based upon racial classifications is constitutionally suspect under the Equal Protection Clause and should be reviewed under strict scrutiny. See Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, ___ U.S. ___, 115 S.Ct. 2097, 132 L.Ed.2d 158 (1995). The Supreme Court has held, however, in the context of Native American Indians, that seemingly race-conscious legislation is valid utilizing the less stringent, rational basis test. Morton v. Mancari, 417 U.S. 535, 94 S.Ct. 2474, 41 L.Ed.2d 290 (1974); see Washington v. Washington State Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel Assoc., 443 U.S. 658, 99 S.Ct. 3055, 61 L.Ed.2d 823 (1979) (preferential fishing rights); Wilson v. Omaha Indian Tribe, 442 U.S. 653, 99 S.Ct. 2529, 61 L.Ed.2d 153 (1979) (burden of proof in property disputes); Moe v. Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, 425 U.S. 463, 96 S.Ct. 1634, 48 L.Ed.2d 96 (1976) (immunity from state taxation); Fisher v. District Court of Sixteenth Judicial Dist., 424 U.S. 382, 96 S.Ct. 943, 47 L.Ed.2d 106 (1976) (adoption laws); Antoine v. Washington, 420 U.S. 194, 95 S.Ct. 944, 43 L.Ed.2d 129 (1975) (preferential hunting rights).

B. Morton v. Mancari

In Morton...

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6 cases
  • Rice v Cayetano
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 23, 2000
    ...invalidate the law excluding Rice from the OHA trustee elections. The District Court granted summary judgment to the State. 963 F. Supp. 1547 (Haw. 1997). Surveying the history of the islands and their people, the District Court determined that Congress and the State of Hawaii have recogniz......
  • In re Buddy Vincent Kalei Maunakea And Kimberly Kuuipo Maunakea, CV. No. 10–00432 DAE–KSC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • March 4, 2011
    ...Br. at 4–5; Gaspar Br. at 4–5.)I. The HHCA The history of the HHCA has been well-chronicled by this Court, e.g. Rice v. Cayetano, 963 F.Supp. 1547, 1551–52 (D.Haw.1997), overruled on other grounds by Rice v. Caterano, 520 U.S. 495 (2000); Carroll v. Nakatani, 188 F.Supp.2d 1219, 1230–31 (D.......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • March 4, 2011
    ...Br. at 4-5; Gaspar Br. at 4-5.) I. The HHCA The history of the HHCA has been well-chronicled by this Court, e.g. Rice v. Cayetano, 963 F. Supp. 1547, 1551-52 (D. Haw. 1997), overruled on other grounds by Rice v. Caterano, 520 U.S. 495 (2000); Carrol v. Nakatani, 188 F. Supp. 2d 1219, 1230-3......
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Hawaii)
    • July 12, 2001
    ...P.2d 745, 748-49 (1982). 21. For further discussion on the history of the Admission Act and the Ceded Lands Trust, see Rice v. Cayetano, 963 F.Supp. 1547, 1551-51 (D.Hawai`i 1997); Naliielua v. Hawaii, 795 F.Supp. 1009, 1011 (D.Hawai`i 22. Of course, this is not meant to say that there can ......
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