Sunday, December 10, 2006

Black Group Decries Discriminatory Hawaiian Admissions Policy

Court Ruling Allowing Preferential Treatment of Native Hawaiians Greases the Skids for Race-Based Island Government

Members of the black leadership network Project 21 decry a Ninth Circuit federal court ruling that allows a Hawaiian school to discriminate against non-native Hawaiians, and note that the ruling could jump-start legislation stalled in Congress to create a race-based island government that directly contradicts our nation's "melting pot" tradition of inclusion. "Responsible lawmakers, jurists and the residents of Hawaii oppose race-based preferences," noted Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie. "This ruling once again shows how a handful of unelected judges can override the will of the people, and how important it is to have judges who strictly interpret our Constitution."

Established in 1887 by the will of the last royal descendent of King Kamehameha, the nonprofit Kamehameha Schools currently give "first right" of admission to those with native Hawaiian ancestry. In a razor-thin 8-7 decision, the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this preferential policy could continue. In her majority opinion, Judge Susan Graber said the policy helps "counteract the significant, current educational deficits of native Hawaiian children in Hawaii."

In his dissent, Judge Jay Bybee noted: "I believe the majority's novel approach to statutory interpretation is readily manipulable and would enable courts to rewrite statutes whenever they want to save a particular program, contract or enactment."

The Doe v. Kamehameha Schools ruling is also being seen as a boost for "The Native Hawaiian Government Restoration Act," a bill proposed by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) to create a native Hawaiian government with sovereign immunity akin to that enjoyed by Indian tribes. Critics of the legislation say it could create a race-based government that would institute a virtual caste system and overturn federal laws and safety regulations as well as endanger the operations of military bases such as Pearl Harbor.

A May 2006 poll commissioned by the Grassroots Institute of Hawaii found that 67 percent of Hawaiian residents oppose the proposed Akaka bill and 80 percent generally oppose race-based preferences. Despite this overwhelming public rejection, Professor Jon Van Dyke of the University of Hawaii's Richardson School of Law told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of the ruling, "This gives the green light, I would think, for Congress to pass the Akaka bill."

"All of this is a transparent attempt to create race-based preferences for a select group of people," said Project 21's Massie. "This ruling must be viewed as an incremental attempt to establish a type of sovereignty which would ultimately relieve native Hawaiians of all federal responsibility. Nothing in said formula, however, convinces reasonably-minded persons that the so-called plight of these people would improve."

In 2000, a decisive 7-2 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a "Hawaiians only" voting provision for the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Regarding the record of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Center for Individual Freedom noted in 2004 that it is "the most reversed court in the country" with 250 percent more unanimous reversals of its decisions appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court than any other circuit at that time. "The 9th Circuit continues to show its proclivity for ruling from the bench in favor of that which is antithetical to a civil and unified American fabric. This is exactly why it is not only the most reversed court in the history of judicial circuits, but also the most frequently chastised court by the U.S. Supreme Court," said Massie.


The voice of the people?

There are certainly many Australians who agree with her

Former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has branded her critics as out of touch with ordinary Australians. Fresh from announcing a political comeback, Ms Hanson refused to back away from her latest attacks on minorities. In comments this week, Ms Hanson criticised Muslims and said she was worried black South African immigrants were bringing diseases into Australia.

Prime Minister John Howard and Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd yesterday said the former MP was unlikely to win support with such views. But Ms Hanson angrily defended her stance. "They are not in tune with what the average person is saying, or they don't care," she said. "I am not anti-people, I am very pro-Australian. And if you want to be a member of Parliament, that's what it's all about."

Ms Hanson said she felt hurt by the criticism and believed she was being unfairly singled out for being a woman. "I just feel I am under more scrutiny than any other politician, and also because I am woman," she said. "And I get upset about it."

Ms Hanson plans to stand as an independent MP at next year's election, but is yet to say if she will run for the Lower House or the Senate. A Herald Sun voteline showed signs of support for her return to politics, with 1780 readers backing the move, and 281 opposed.

Ms Hanson stands to make a six-figure sum even if she fails to make it into Parliament. If she gains 4 per cent of the vote, she will get $2.05 a vote for campaign expenses. Ms Hanson, an MP from 1996 to 1998, reaped $190,000 after standing for the Senate in a failed 2004 comeback. She said yesterday her latest tilt had nothing to do with the money. "If you think I stand for money it's an absolute insult and a slap in the face for me," the former member for Oxley said.

Mr Howard said Australians had moved on from Hanson. "I don't believe that people are very interested in what she is saying now," he said. Mr Howard said he was critical of "zealous multiculturalism", but did not believe people should be singled out for their race or religion.

Mr Rudd said Ms Hanson had failed to come up with any positive policies. "I think Ms Hanson has in the past always been good at identifying what she sees as being problems, but I've never seen Ms Hanson come forward with any practical solutions for the long-term," he said.

Ms Hanson has said she was concerned at the ease with which people were able to gain Australian citizenship, especially Muslims and Africans. "We're bringing in people from South Africa at the moment," she said. "There's a huge amount coming into Australia who have diseases; they have got AIDS." But immigration authorities said migrants were subject to stringent health checks.

Ms Hanson refused yesterday to elaborate on her vision for Australia, saying she would declare her position on other issues closer to the election. "I'm not going to discuss that at this stage," she said. "I'll make my comments next year."


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