Can Congress Create A Race-Based Government?-The Constitutionality of S. 147/H.R. 309 Also Known As the Akaka Bill

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”’Editor’s Note: This is the opening Statement from Chairman Steve Chabot, of the Subcommittee on the Constitution in the U.S. House of Representatives, who held a hearing Tuesday, July 19, 2005, on the constitutionality of the Akaka Bill. Four witnesses presented testimony and responded to questions from Members of Congress: Honorable Mark Bennett; Attorney General, State of Hawaii; Shannen W. Coffin; Partner, Steptoe & Johnson, L.L.P; H. William Burgess; Aloha for All; Bruce Fein; The Lichfield Group. The session is covered with three links to audio files, listed in the correct order below. Note that once you have downloaded and listened to the contents of any particular link, you can then save it to your hard-drive in the same way you would save any ordinary open file. The following link includes introductions of those giving testimony; the testimony of Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett; testimony of Shannen W. Coffin; testimony of Honolulu attorney H. William Burgess; testimony of Constitutional law expert, attorney Bruce Fein. See The second link consists of questions from the Members of Congress and answers from those who gave testimony. See”’

Good afternoon. I would like to thank everyone for
coming. This is a hearing before the Subcommittee on
the Constitution to examine whether Congress can
create a race-based government within the United
States and in particular, the constitutionality of
H.R. 309, a bill that would authorize the creation and
recognition of a Native Hawaiian quasi-sovereign
government. I would like to recognize at the outset
that this Committee does not have jurisdiction over
H.R. 309 itself. But, I believe that this bill, and
the companion bill in the Senate, raise constitutional
questions of such magnitude that we would be doing a
disservice to the public and to our constituents if we
did not closely examine the constitutional
implications of H.R. 309.


We have a distinguished panel before us today. I would
like to thank them for taking the time to provide us
with their insight and expertise. I know Mr. Burgess,
who flew in from Hawaii, had an extremely long trip. I
appreciate his efforts in coming here. I look forward
to his testimony, as well as to all of the testimony
to be presented here this afternoon.

Since the Civil War, the United States has strived to
become a color blind society. We have struggled to
ensure that the principles on which our country was
founded are applied equally and that every person
receives just and fair treatment under our laws. But,
the issue that we are focused on today suggests that
race should be the sole criteria for how individuals
are treated. I couldn