U.S. Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh looks on in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis via PBS
Published September 9, 2018
JUNEAU, Alaska — In a letter sent to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), dated September 7, 2018, the president of the Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska expressed its “strong disapproval of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.”
Central Council of Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President Richard J. Peterson told Murkowski that Tlingit & Haida represents over 30,000 tribal citizens. He writes, “all of whom would be endangered by Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation because of his errorenous views on indigenous rights and tribal sovereignty.”
“We are concerned moving his nomination forward due to his unsound views and the potential injury that his misconceptions would wreak upon your Native Alaskan constituents, our Native Hawaiian friends and fellow indigenous peoples. I write to you, asking you to vote no, and oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination,” Peterson continues.
The letter was written one day after U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, a member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, released a “committee confidential” email on Thursday in which Kavanaugh questions the constitutionality of Native Hawaiian programs.
Pressure is mounting on Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski by Alaska Native tribes to vote no on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
The email was originally written by Kavanaugh in 2002 when he was on staff at the White House during President George W. Bush’s administration. In the email, he responded to a question about whether Congress should treat Native Hawaiians as it would a Native American tribe.
“I think the testimony needs to make clear that any program targeting Native Hawaiians as a group is subject to strict scrutiny and of questionable validity under the Constitution,” he wrote.
In a terse exchange on Thursday during Kavanaugh’s hearing before the Judiciary Committee, Hirono said Kavanaugh’s conclusions on Native Hawaiians are “factually wrong” and incredibly offensive.
The concerns mentioned in the Tlingit & Haida tribes’ letter to Murkowski include the upcoming Supreme Court case involving fishing rights of Alaska Natives, and voting rights, environmental, and health care issues.
“It is crucially important that when indigenous peoples come before the Supreme Court, the decisions are made by justices who share our Nation’s fundamental understanding of indigeous rights,” Peterson writes near the end of his letter.