- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2005

Senate Democrats, with the support of some Republicans, are pushing a bill that would establish a race-based native Hawaiian government within the state.

Critics say it would have ramifications beyond Hawaii, leading to the further “Balkanization” of an American society that is already bilingual on a de facto basis.

“This bill is un-American in that it seeks to define citizenship based on race rather than shared ideals,” said Bruce Fein, a constitutional lawyer and former Reagan administration Justice Department official.

Critics say the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 would deny state and county governments the full exercise of civil and criminal procedures and jurisdiction over homeland security on the new sovereign territory and over native members of that territory.

They also say the “tribal” government would be immune from breach of contract or personal injury lawsuits in state or federal courts and would be empowered to make unlimited, untaxed campaign contributions as a way to buy political influence.

Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii Democrat, is chief sponsor of the bill, which also has the support of the state’s senior U.S. senator, Daniel K. Inouye, also a Democrat. Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republicans, also support the Hawaii measure.

In March, Mr. Inouye and Mr. Akaka, along with Sen. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, were the only Democrats to vote with Senate Republicans to allow drilling for petroleum and natural gas in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Their votes are seen as a quid pro quo for support of the native Hawaiian bill.

“Our support for their bill and their support or ANWR drilling has everything to do with the relationship of the native peoples of Alaska and Hawaii and the close personal relationships of the two congressional delegations,” said Murkowski spokesman Elliott Bundy. “Senator Stevens and Senator Inouye go back a long time together in the Senate. I think the same can be said for Senator Murkowski and Senator Akaka as well.”

The bill is opposed by leading conservatives in the Senate, including Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee.

“I continue to believe that this bill is profoundly unconstitutional and poses serious moral and political problems,” Mr. Kyl said in March.

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