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Opinion
Opinion: Native Hawaiian bill sets bad precedent


"Some congressional staffers are calling it 'the worst bill most voters have never heard of.' Hyperbole aside, the Senate is preparing to take up legislation that would create an independent, race-based government for Native Hawaiians. If this bill becomes law an entrenched racial spoils system will hand benefits to as many as one-fifth of the state's population and could inspire mainland groups such as Hispanic separatists to seek similar spoils, should they ever gain enough political leverage.

This isn't how it was supposed to be in Hawaii. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 to undo a previously established race-based system. Under that system non-Native Hawaiians were barred from voting for trustees overseeing the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The ruling, which was joined by liberal Justices David Souter and Stephen Breyer, found that a Hawaiian law requiring that the trustees be Native Hawaiians and elected only by other Native Hawaiians was obviously discriminatory. 'There can be no such thing as either a creditor or a debtor race,' wrote Justice Antonin Scalia. 'In the eyes of government, we are just one race, it is American.'"

Get the Story:
John Fund: Volcanic Politics (The Wall Street Journal 7/18)

Hawaiian Recognition Bill:
Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 (S.147)

Relevant Links:
Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Site - http://www.hawaii-nation.org
Native Hawaiians, Department of Interior - http://www.doi.gov/nativehawaiians
Native Hawaiian Federal Recognition Site - http://www.nativehawaiians.com

Related Stories:
Commentary: Bill creates 'race-based' government (07/07)
Novak: Native Hawaiian bill creates new 'Indians' (7/5)
Column: Bill creates 'tribe' of Native Hawaiians (6/23)
High court won't take on Native Hawaiian recognition (06/14)
Panel approves Native Hawaiian, NAGPRA changes (03/10)
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Norton continues to question Native Hawaiian bill (2/23)
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