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Bush administration opposes Native Hawaiian bill
Friday, May 4, 2007
Filed Under: Recognition

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Panel 1 Testimony - Q&A Part 1 - Q&A Part 2 Panel 2 - Testimony - Q&A
The Bush administration opposes the Native Hawaiian recognition bill, a Department of Justice official said on Thursday.

Principal Deputy Associate Attorney Gregory Katsas testified before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. He said S.310, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, would create a race-based government in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Hawaii attorney general Mark Bennett and Viet Dinh, a former DOJ official who is now a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, disputed Katsas. They cited U.S. Supreme Court precedents that allow Congress to define the "metes" and "bounds" of tribal recognition.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs Chairwoman Haunani Apoliona testified in favor of recognition. She was accompanied by the office's legal counsel, who said non-Natives have assimilated to Native Hawaiian culture, not the other way around.

William Burgess, a former attorney, testified against the bill. He had much of the same criticisms as the DOJ witness.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota), the chairman of the committee, supported the bill. Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyoming), the vice chairman, pointed out that he voted against advancing the bill last year, and said he would have voted against it on the merits.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) spoke in favor of the bill. She criticized Katsas and Burgess for language in their testimony that she said was unnecessarily inflammatory. She said people raised similar alarms about Alaska Natives during debate on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act but none of the concerns proved to be valid.

Get the Story:
Rewritten Akaka Bill stirs same objections (The Honolulu Star-Bulletin 5/4)
Akaka bill strongly opposed (The Honolulu Adveriser 5/4)

Committee Bearing:
LEGISLATIVE HEARING on S. 310, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007 (May 3, 2007)

Recognition Bill:
Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (S.310)

Relevant Links:
Office of Hawaiian Affairs - http://www.oha.org

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