The proposed Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (known as the "Akaka Bill") would set in motion a process under which ethnic Hawaiians living throughout the country could form themselves into an Indian tribe. In doing so, they would become by far the largest such tribe in our nation's history-with as many as 400,000 members. Supporters argue that the Akaka Bill is a matter of simple justice-that it partially restores ethnic Hawaiians to the sovereignty they held prior to the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893. Opponents assert that the bill is less about Queen Liliuokalani and more about safeguarding various special benefits-from special schools to special business loans-currently enjoyed by ethnic Hawaiians, some of which are now under challenge in the courts on equal protection grounds. If passed, would the Akaka Bill be constitutional? Is it good policy? What sort of precedent would it set for other groups that may wish to form Indian tribes in the future? These and many other questions will be discussed by our panel of experts.
- Hon. Steve King, U.S. House of Representatives, Iowa
- Mr. Joe Matal, Counsel to Senator Kyl, Senate Judiciary Committee
- Moderator: Mr. Dean Reuter, Director of the Practice Groups, The Federalist Society
National Press Club