All those "whereas" clauses in congressional resolutions amount to nothing, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1993, the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution expressing its deep regret to native Hawaiians insofar as the United States’ overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Contained within the resolution was an apology to the Hawaiian people, which acknowledged that the Hawaiian people never directly relinquished their claims to their national lands to the United States. Apparently, no good deed goes unpunished.
In reliance on the resolution, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) laid claim upon certain property so as to preserve any native Hawaiian claims to ownership of the property. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected OHA’s claims, holding that nothing in the joint resolution showed an intent to create substantive rights. The court reasoned that "whereas" clauses in legislation have no operative effect, and that the "whereas" clause in question demonstrated no intent to amend or repeal prior law. As to other state-law arguments made by OHA, the court held that it had not authority to decide those questions or provide redress for them.