Publication Title

Washington Law Review


Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele, Hawaiian sovereignty

Document Type



My approach in this Essay is to look at the Native Hawaiian Sovereignty conflict through a lens suggested by evolutionary theory, sometimes described in the law schools as "Law and Biology." In this world, the sense of justice is a set of expectations about how others should behave, backed by a proclivity towards moralistic aggression against deviators.

The sense of justice entails both cognition and emotion, with a match of expectations and then the fit that follows if there is no fit.

Compare and despair is the name of the game. Explored in detail are the actions of Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele that lead to a federal trial. The Kanahele case is a shining example of the sense of justice at work in human affairs. Kanahele was prosecuted because he threatened the authorities, defected from the group, offended the elite, alienated his peers, and tarnished the reputations of officials.

But what makes the U.S. courts the envy of the world is that people who come there expect to see justice happen. The same sense of justice that drove this case can be turned on its managers, and what do we find? Trumped-up charges and self-deceptions by a bunch of nervous authorities who are protecting their status and reputations by manipulating the laws of the greatest democracy the world has ever seen.



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