Why the Akaka Bill was Conceived

(c) Copyright 2001 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

Many politicians in Hawai'i eagerly embrace this bill, because they expect that federal recognition would bring massive amounts of federal money into the State of Hawai'i, and might relieve the state of some of its current financial burdens for the racial entitlement programs which the state has unwisely enacted over the past 20 years.

There is only one reason why this bill is being introduced in the year 2000. On February 23, 2000 the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Rice v. Cayetano. By a 7-2 vote, the Court ruled that "Hawaiian" and "Native Hawaiian" are racial classifications, not political classifications. Therefore, the court ruled, it is unconstitutional for the state to restrict to Native Hawaiians the right to vote in statewide elections for the State of Hawai'i Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA).

For a summary and analysis of the Rice decision, including a link to the full text, please see: https://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/ricevcayetano.html

The immediate consequence of the Rice decision is to force the State of Hawai'i to abandon racial segregation in voting, and to allow all registered voters to vote in OHA trustee elections. But virtually all attorneys and political commentators take note of the Court's strong language in identifying "Native Hawaiian" as a racial classification, and draw the obvious conclusion that the myriad of racial entitlement programs currently in place to benefit Native Hawaiians will be challenged and will probably be found unconstitutional. OHA itself is unconstitutional, because its benefits are restricted to Native Hawaiians. Also unconstitutional are other state and federal racial entitlement programs in housing, healthcare, education, job training, etc. Even private institutions such as Kamehameha School may be at risk because their tax-exempt status is improper for a racially segregated institution (do we tolerate racial or gender discrimination in private clubs, even without the tax exemption?) -- see https://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/kamschool.html

The State of Hawai'i has welfare programs, just like all other states. Those programs help needy people solely on the basis of need, without regard to race. Native Hawaiians often claim that they are at the bottom among Hawai'i's ethnic groups in terms of housing, healthcare, education, alcohol and drug abuse, family dysfunction, and incarceration. That claim can be challenged, because the definition of Native Hawaiian is "one drop" of native blood, which means they count in their statistics people whose blood is 99% non-native and who, on that theory, could equally-well be called white, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, etc. Nevertheless, the kind-hearted people of Hawai'i and the United States have listened to these claims, and have created racial entitlement programs to benefit only Native Hawaiians.

An example is S.87 and its companion H.R.562 (known in the 106th Congress as S1929), a bill to provide free healthcare to all Native Hawaiians, regardless of their income level. So even while wealthy Native Hawaiians get free healthcare, there are thousands of very needy people of other ethnicities who cannot afford it and receive inadequate help from government. The arguments used in supporting the healthcare bill are the same arguments used to support all other racial entitlement bills, including the Akaka bill. Readers can see a point-by-point analysis of 30 false and distorted historical, moral, and legal claims buried in the fine print of the healthcare bill by looking at https://www.angelfire.com/hi2/hawaiiansovereignty/S1929.html

Thus, the main reason why the Akaka bill is being proposed is to ask Congress and the President to overrule the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Rice v. Cayetano. But that is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court can overrule and nullify any Presidential executive order or Act of Congress, and has done so ever since the Marbury v. Madison decision two centuries ago. But the Supreme Court cannot be overruled, except by impeachment and conviction of its Justices, or passage of a Constitutional amendment.


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(c) Copyright 2001 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved

Email: ken_conklin@yahoo.com