Thursday, February 05, 2009
So where is Obama on the “ceded lands” dispute now before the US Supreme Court?
by Larry Geller
We wondered where the Obama Administration would come down in the dispute, considering our new president's hometown ties to the Aloha State. Here's the answer: In an amicus brief filed last week, the Justice Department is supporting Hawaii's position. (It also requested 10 minutes of argument time at the Court.) The brief, signed by acting Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler, says the U.S. has key interests, including military bases, on the disputed land.
The argument is set for Feb. 25. [American Lawyer.com, In Supreme Court Aloha State Land Dispute, It's Wilmer v. W&C, 2/5/2009]
The same website has another article, Who Owns 1.2 Million Acres in Hawaii? Waxman, Williams & Connolly Headed to SCOTUS to Find Out (2/5/2009) which describes the case and closes with this curious comment:
The case also brings in claims of moral law. The Williams & Connolly brief includes this sentence: "Regardless whether Native Hawaiians have legal claims to ceded land, however, they clearly have broader moral and political claims." It will be interesting to hear what the justices make of this.
I thought that was curious, because lawyers are supposed to deal with the law as it is written and interpreted. I didn’t think morality figured into it much. Seriously. If it did, Native Americans would have had justice a long time ago. If it did, the US would not be allowed to detain anyone indefinitely or practice torture. If it did, we wouldn’t be in an illegal war in Iraq.
If there were such a thing as moral law, Hawaii would not be a state now.