Scholarship Update

Native Hawaiian Law Treatise Is Cited by the U.S. Supreme Court

By Susan K. Serrano, Director of Research and Scholarship

Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, edited by Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie, Susan K. Serrano & D. Kapua‘ala Sproat, was cited in the first footnote of a recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Lewis et al. v. Clarke, No. 15–1500 (Apr. 25, 2017), alongside the well-known Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law.

In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Court considered the scope of the Mohegan Tribe’s sovereign immunity when plaintiffs brought suit against a tribal employee in his individual capacity as a result of an off-reservation car accident.  The Court held that, in a suit brought against a tribal employee in his or her individual capacity, “the employee, not the tribe, is the real party in interest and the tribe’s sovereign immunity is not implicated.”  As commentators note (here and here), the decision is a loss to the Mohegan Tribe, but also raises a number of legal questions going forward.

A core part of Ka Huli Ao’s mission is to advance the understanding, appreciation, and application of Native Hawaiian Law.  Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise was prepared and published for this purpose.  Ka Huli Ao’s ongoing vision is that the Treatise will be used worldwide as a resource and source of aspiration to advance a law of responsible stewardship and respect for Indigenous peoples.

To purchase a copy of Native Hawaiian Law: A Treatise, please go to: