Betsy Newmark takes an incredibly thorough look at the Akaka bill, with links to what has to be just about everything written on the subject. For those who don’t recall, the bill would “designate Native Hawaiians as a separate group deserving of special self-governing privileges similar to those which Native Americans have had.” Here is one of the reasons Betsy sets out that the bill is such a terrible idea.
The bill, the Native Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005, commonly referred to as the Akaka Bill after its chief sponsor, Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii. What the bill aims to do is to establish a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity that only Native Hawaiians could vote for. A commission would be established to determine who qualifies as a Native Hawaiian. They would have to prove that they have a direct lineal descent from those “aboriginal, indigenous, native people” who were either on the islands in 1893 or in 1921 when Congress passed another law establishing special programs for native Hawaiians. So, they will create a special list of voters for which people would have to submit marriage and birth certificates to prove their ancestry. Is this really what America is about, adding qualifications for voting in an election that depend on proving whom your grandmother married or where your great-grandfather was born? And with high intermarriage rates, are we now going to adopt a one-drop qualification to prove that you are indeed a Native Hawaiian? Doesn’t this violate the Fifteenth Amendment’s provisions against race-based voting qualifications?
John McCain has said he will vote for it, while Jon Kyl is fighting against it. Read Betsy’s entire post for even more reasons the bill is a bad idea.