The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Now the Federal Indian shakedown?
We know that, in California, today's Octopus  wears a headdress (my piece of September 30).
But, strangely, it had escaped me that a redskin raid to gladden Geronimo's heart is currently in progress in the sacred purlieus of Capitol Hill itself!
To wit, S 578, the Tribal Government Amendments to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 .
The first 12 sections of the bill are amendments of detail to the 2002 Act - the impression is one of a housekeeping exercise - no matters of principle at stake at all . Of an utterly different character is §13:
According to an analysis by the Citizens Equal Rights Alliance ,
Section 13 would overturn a series of at least twenty years of Supreme Court decisions including the recent unanimous decisions of Nevada v. Hicks and Atkinson v. Shirley and Oliphant v. Suquamish Tribe.
Now, as I understand it, it's pretty commonplace for Federal legislators to attach riders to bills to slide them through when, if they constituted a separate bill, they would come under much more exacting scrutiny. This seems to be what's happening here.
I can't say I've considered the merits - perhaps, despite appearances to the contrary, the Indians have a case. There's plenty of law to digest for a start, before being able to tackle the substantive question.
It's the sneaky - though time-honoured: the old Southern Caucus would surely tip their hats! - way that the amendment is being got through that is the immediate cause for alarm.
Already, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has held hearings on S 578 (on July 30). The statement of Sen Daniel Inouye is instructive: it's not the first time a power grab comes justified by considerations of national security - Inouye is no more blameworthy than John Ashcroft in that regard! But the idea of Al Qaida roaming the reservations because of the Indian police's lack of an arrest power - you need to read it to believe it.
I can't identify anyone on the witness list likely to have spoken against §13: perhaps the Indian Affairs Committee is the Senate equivalent of a reservation, where the white man deigns not to intrude.
Certainly much more research needed - but how much time is there before the bill gets reported out? Can §13 be excised in the Governmental Affairs Committee (to which the bill has also been referred)?
In case you were wondering, there is a corresponding House bill, HR 2242, which has the same §13. It's been referred to five committees, none of which have held hearings.
What is the Administration's view on the matter? Not, I fear, the sort of bill to veto a year out from a presidential election...
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