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Rights panel against Akaka Bill


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POSTED: Monday, August 31, 2009

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has sent a letter to congressional leaders urging opposition to the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the Akaka Bill.

In the letter issued Friday, the commission said it believes Congress does not have the “;constitutional authority to 'reorganize' racial or ethnic groups into dependent sovereign nations unless the groups have a long and continuous history of separate self-governance.”; The letter said creating such a entity would be a “;harmful precedent.”;

“;Ethnic Hawaiians will surely not be the only group to demand such treatment,”; the letter said. “;On what ground will Congress tell these other would-be tribes 'no?'”;

The commission called the bill an end-run around the Supreme Court's decision in Rice v. Cayetano and City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., and opposed passing “;legislation with the purpose of shoring up a system of racially exclusive benefits.”;

The letter closed by quoting the 1840 Kingdom of Hawaii Constitution, signed by King Kamehameha III and Keoni Ana, the son of British-born minister John Young: “;God has made of one blood all races of people to dwell upon this Earth in unity and blessedness.”;

The letter said, “;It would be ironic to attempt to honor the dynamic, cosmopolitan Kingdom of Hawaii by disdaining these words.”;