PoliticalNews.me - Oct 03,2010 - Washington, D.C. - The American Bar Association (ABA) sent a letter this week to every United States Senator urging support for the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. The letter outlines the bill's constitutionality and its precedent within U.S. law, and details benefits of the U.S. providing parity to Native Hawaiians as indigenous people.
"The American Bar Association's detailed explanation of the history, need, and constitutionality of the bill will help address mischaracterizations and bring attention to the importance of this bill," said Senator Daniel K. Akaka, the bill's sponsor. "Although there are many important bills pending on the Senate calendar, I remain optimistic that the Senate will be able to consider the bill during the lame-duck session. I thank the ABA for its unwavering support."
"The endorsement and support of the American Bar Association is critical and I am certain it will help to convince some of my colleagues to consider the matter when we return from recess," said Senator Daniel K. Inouye.
The ABA letter says that the organization supports "the right of Native Hawaiians to seek federal recognition of a native governing entity within the United States similar to that which American Indians and Alaska Natives possess under the U.S. Constitution."
When the federally recognized Native Hawaiian governing entity is formed, it will "serve, maintain and support their unique cultural and civic needs and advocate on their behalf at the federal and state levels." The letter continues, "Congressional support for legislation that would lead to a process for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians is the next logical step."
The ABA also outlines the bill's constitutionality: "The right of Native Hawaiians to use of the property held in trust for them and the right to govern those assets are not in conflict with the Equal Protection Clause since they rest on independent constitutional authority regarding the rights of native nations contained in Articles I and II of the Constitution. The constitutional framers recognized the existence of native nations within the United States that predated our own democracy and created a system for federal recognition of indigenous nations within our expanding democracy."
"Our courts have upheld Congress' power to recognize indigenous nations," and "the Native Hawaiians have the right to be recognized by the Congress, this right is not in conflict with the rights of others, and this recognition may be renewed despite historical lapses," the letter concludes before urging the Senators to vote in support.
American Bar Association has nearly 400,000 members nationwide.
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives in February with bipartisan support. In July, Senators Akaka and Inouye reached an agreement with Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle to make four clarifying changes to the text of the bill which secured the Governor's support. The bill is now pending in the Senate.