Queen LiliuokalaniThe U.S. Supreme Court is poised to rule on the issue of whether apologies issued to Hawaii give native Hawaiians a legal claim to lands seized in the 19th century.

The Court will have to judge whether an apology was a mere statement of regret, or whether, even without additional language, the apology creates legal responsibilities.

The case has important implications for native Hawaiians and for other groups, such as native Americans, which may have historic claims to seized territory. It also bears directly on the politics and legal implications of the growing number of state and federal apologies for the nation’s history of slavery and discrimination.

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