Congress should end delays in Akaka Bill
The American Bar Association has endorsed the bill to recognize Hawaiian sovereignty.
PROPONENTS of Hawaiian recognition received a boost with endorsement by the American Bar Association
, but that is not likely to dissuade those who argue that the bill before Congress, if enacted, would result in racial discrimination. Hawaii's congressional delegation can cite the ABA support in continuing to press for a Senate vote after nearly six years of delay.
The lawyers association asserted that it would allow Hawaiians to form a governing body "similar to American Indian and Alaska native governments." ABA President Michael Greco said Hawaiians should be afforded the process that eventually would allow them to deal with the United States on a similar "government-to-government basis."
The legislation was augured by a 1993 congressional apology for the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom. It was made necessary by a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Hawaiians lack tribal status afforded to American Indians and Alaska natives. Sponsored by Senator Akaka, the bill passed the House in 2000 but has languished in the Senate.
Sen. John Kyl, R-Ariz., froze the Akaka Bill in recent years with a hold permitted by the Senate's archaic rules. Akaka and Senator Inouye retaliated in 2004 with a threat to a measure sponsored by Kyl. Republican leaders agreed to send the Akaka Bill to the floor by last August, postponed it for a month and laid it aside while addressing Hurricane Katrina.
Akaka said nearly two months ago that Majority Leader Bill Frist pledged "on taking appropriate steps" to assure a Senate vote this year.
Challenged for re-election by Rep. Ed Case, Akaka claims the seniority and relationships "to move things in the Senate," but his influence has yet to bring the legislation most dear to him to the Senate floor. Case fully supports the Akaka Bill, but the effectiveness of Akaka's seniority is at issue, as it should be.
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