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Constitution and Statutory Laws

Constitutional History

The Hawaiian Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy. The last Head of State was Her Hawaiian Majesty Queen Lili‘uokalani who died on November 11, 1917, without a lawful successor. The Legislative Assembly, the body with the power to enact laws also has the authority to elect by ballot a successor to the Throne. The Legislative power of the Kingdom is vested in three Estates; the King, and the Legislative Assembly; which Assembly shall consist of the Nobles appointed by the Monarch, and of the Representatives of the People, sitting together. The Representatives are an elected body, and therefore the foundation of our system of democratic government. The Monarch upon the advice of the Privy Council appoints the Nobles for a life term. The Monarch is also represented by a Governor on each of the main islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, O‘ahu, and Kaua‘i.

The Constitution of the Hawaiian Kingdom is the organic law of the country and it is supplemented with the Civil and the Penal Codes. Session laws enacted by the Legislative Assembly, biennially, amend or repeal certain provisions of the Civil and Penal Codes. The Legislative Assembly also has the “exclusive” authority to amend the Constitution of the country.

In 1887, while the Legislature Assembly remained out of session, a minority of subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom and foreign nationals, which included citizens of the United States, met in a mass meeting to organize a takeover of the political rights of the native population in the Kingdom. On July 1, 1887, these individuals threatened His Hawaiian Majesty King David Kalakaua with bodily harm if he did not accept a new Cabinet Council. On July 7, 1887, the members of this new cabinet forced a new constitution upon the King. This new constitution did not obtain the consent nor ratification of the Legislative Assembly who had remained adjourned since October 16, 1886.

Under this so-called constitution deriving itself from the Executive branch and not the Legislative branch, a new Legislature was elected while the lawful Legislature remained out of session. The voters, which for the first time included aliens, had to swear an oath to support the so-called constitution before they could vote. The insurgents used the alien vote to offset the majority vote of the aboriginal Hawaiian population, in order to gain control of the Legislative Assembly, while the so-called 1887 constitution provided the self imposed Cabinet Council to control the Monarch. This new Legislature was not properly constituted under the Constitution of 1864, nor the lawfully executed Session Laws of the Legislative Assembly of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

In spite of the illegal efforts to promulgate this so-called constitution, the 1886 Legislative Assembly did not ratify this so-called constitution pursuant to Article 80 of the 1864 Constitution. Article 80 states "Any amendment or amendments to this Constitution may be proposed in the Legislative Assembly, and if the same shall be agreed to by a majority of the members thereof, such proposed amendment or amendments shall be entered on its journal, with the yeas and nays taken thereon, and referred to the next Legislature; which proposed amendment or the next election of Representatives; and if in the next Legislature such proposed amendment or amendments shall be agreed to by two-thirds of all members of the Legislative Assembly, and be approved by the King, such amendment or amendments shall become part of the Constitution of this country."

Organized resistance by the native subjects of the country resulted in the creation of the Hawaiian Political Party, also known as the Hui Kalai'aina, who protested against the so-called constitution of 1887. Hui Kalai'aina consistently petitioned His Majesty King David Kalakaua to resort back to the 1864 constitution because it was the legal constitution of the Country.

Notwithstanding the extortion of the so-called constitution of 1887, commonly known as the "bayonet constitution," the Constitution of 1864 and the Session laws of the Legislative Assembly enacted since October 16, 1886, still remain in full force and have legal effect in the Hawaiian Kingdom until today. Article 78, of the Constitution of 1864, provides that all "...laws now in force in this Kingdom, shall continue and remain in full effect, until altered or repealed by the Legislature; such parts only excepted as are repugnant to this Constitution. All laws heretofore enacted, or that may hereafter be enacted, which are contrary to this Constitution, shall be null and void."

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