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Federal Recognition
Editorial: Unconstitutional Native Hawaiian bill


"Hawaiian Sen. Daniel Akaka's seven-year project, the "Native Hawaiian Governmental Reorganization Act" often called simply the Akaka bill, has been labeled many things -- from manifest destiny in reverse to unhinged multiculturalism -- but what it really is is an attempt to legalize and codify what the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2000: a race-based government.

The case of Rice v. Cayetano, which came to the Supreme Court from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, challenged the policy established by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs of allowing only native Hawaiians to vote for its trustees. In a 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court decided that the "Hawaiian only" policy violated the 15th Amendment, overturning the 9th Circuit decision and striking down the voting restriction. Mr. Akaka's legislation would bestow autonomy on native Hawaiians similar to that of American Indians or Native Alaskans -- a precedent of sovereignty that the Supreme Court has recognized.

In his push to get the legislation back on the Senate's agenda, Mr. Akaka asserted that, "those who characterize this bill as race-based fail to understand the federal policies towards indigenous peoples." The language of the bill, however, defines "Native Hawaiians" in terms of lineage, but does not include a host of other factors that are generally used to characterize American Indians. As the bill does not include as a prerequisite the participation in a specific community, a native Hawaiian governing entity could include the 240,000 native Hawaiians living in Hawaii or all of the 400,000 native Hawaiians living across the United States -- the latter making it the more populous than the largest Indian tribe."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Island separatist (The Washington Times 6/1)

Civil Rights Commission Report:
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 (May 2006)

Civil Rights Commission Transcript:
January 20, 2006 Meeting

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

Rice v. Cayetano Resources:
Abstract, Audio and More

Rice v. Cayetano Election Rights Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion | Concurrence Dissent (Stevens) | Dissent (Ginsburg)

Senate Republican Policy Paper:
Why Congress Must Reject Race-Based Government for Native Hawaiians (June 2005)

Relevant Links:
US Commission on Civil Rights - http://www.usccr.gov
Native Hawaiian Sovereignty Site - http://www.hawaii-nation.org
Native Hawaiian Federal Recognition Site - http://www.nativehawaiians.com

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