ACRU

Obama Administration Defends Hawaiian Separatism in Federal Court

Judge's gavel

This column by ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams was published October 22, 2015 by PJ Media.

On Friday, a federal judge in Hawaii will rule whether a racially discriminatory election that only allows one race to participate may take place in November. The Obama administration filed a brief as a friend of the court saying that the racially discriminatory election should take place.

Hawaii passed a law to empower the “native Hawaiian” movement by establishing a government-run voter registration roll that only allows “native Hawaiians” to register to vote. The law’s purpose “is to provide for and to implement the recognition of the native Hawaiian people by means and methods that will facilitate their self-governance.”

The law allows for an election to select delegates to a convention, which would then draft the “governance documents” of a native Hawaiian entity. The “roll of qualified Native Hawaiians” will result in “a convention of qualified native Hawaiians, established for the purpose of organizing themselves.”

The authors of the law seem to have never heard of Appomattox.

The election of delegates to the convention is set to take place next month unless federal district court judge J. Michael Seabright blocks the racially exclusionary election on Friday. Judicial Watch has sought to block the election.

Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said “the Constitution still applies to the the State of Hawaii. It is shameful that it has taken a federal lawsuit to remind both Hawaiian officials and the Obama administration about the rule of the law.”

The native Hawaiian separatist movement relies on the familiar narrative that the establishment of Hawaii as a state is illegitimate. After all, American corporate interests overthrew Queen Liliuokalani in 1893, and imperialism wiped out legitimate Hawaiian self-governance, or so the story goes.

Similar separatist efforts are underway in Guam.

Instead of opposing racial classifications and racial division, the Obama administration is doing what it does best: taking sides against American traditions of equality and unity.

In a brief filed by the Department of the Interior, the Obama administration squarely takes the side of the racial classifications and those defending the separatist election.

The Obama administration characterizes the nativist movement in Hawaii as akin to an Indian tribe recognized as such by Congress, which it isn’t.

As explained below, in accordance with Federal law, tribes in the continental United States routinely limit voting in tribal elections, including constitutional referenda, to members, while excluding non-Natives. There is no principled basis for treating the Native Hawaiian community differently.

No principled basis? Here’s a start: Congress never passed a law to treat native Hawaiians like an Indian tribe like that pesky Constitution requires. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 clearly gives Congress alone the power to answer questions related to the status of an Indian tribe. Congress has repeatedly rejected efforts to treat native Hawaiians like good old fashioned stateside Indians.

Only in the Obama administration would a lawyer file a pleading with a court saying there is “no principled basis” when the Constitution itself provides a principled basis.

But the Obama lawyers go even further and have no gripe with the racially exclusionary elections. Why should they? After all, this is a gang that’s regularly on the wrong side of questions of racial equality. They’ve even drafted rules to give validity to the racially exclusionary election. The brief:

The proposed rule places few conditions on the drafting of a governing document that might be presented to the Department in the process of reestablishing a government-to-government relationship, merely stating that the governing document should be “based on meaningful input from representative segments of the Native Hawaiian community and reflect the will of [that] community.”

This is a question for Congress to decide, not a small band of lawyer-activists inside the Obama administration who enable a racial separatist movement in Hawaii. We’ll see Friday if the racially exclusionary election is allowed to take place.