Some suggest that Hawai‘i was never annexed to the United States and, as proof, refer to the October 4, 1988 Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice Opinion and a subsequent (March 12, 2000) Op-Ed by Steven Newcomb in the Advertiser to support their conclusion. Some even go as far as adding a quote – “US never legally annexed Hawai‘i” – inferring that the Office of Legal Counsel Opinion notes same. (That was the heading on Newcomb’s Op-Ed and apparently his opinion, not the Department of Justice’s.)
In fact, the Office of Legal Counsel Opinion makes the definitive statement, “The United States also annexed Hawai‘i by joint resolution in 1898. Joint Res. 55, 30 Stat. 750 (1898). Again, the Senate had already rejected an annexation treaty, this one negotiated by President McKinley with Hawaii.” The Opinion was not about Hawai‘i, nor its annexation – in fact, of the 26-pages of the Opinion (not counting appendices,) only 2-pages referenced the process of annexation of Hawai‘i. And Hawai‘i and its annexation to the US are not even mentioned in the Opinion’s Conclusion – the opinion addressed and is titled ‘Legal Issues Raised by Proposed Presidential Proclamation To Extend the Territorial Sea, October 4, 1988’.