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OHA reacts to Supreme Court decision in Corboy case


The Office of Hawaiian Affairs issued the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court declined Friday to hear an appeal in Corboy v. Louie.

The plaintiffs had sued the state and two county governments – Maui and the Big Island – to eliminate property tax exemptions currently available only to those living on Hawaiian Home Lands.

The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to bring the case in 2011 and that decision was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is a great day for Native Hawaiians. We are extremely pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. We congratulate the state Attorney General and his staff attorneys on their legal victory, which not only protected laws granting tax exemptions to those living on Hawaiian Home Lands, but also helped protect other programs designed to better conditions for Native Hawaiians,” said Colette Machado, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Lingle statement on decision

Former Gov. Linda Lingle applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject a federal constitutional challenge to county property tax exemptions provided to lessees of Hawaiian Homelands and to the constitutionality of the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act itself.

The Maui tax exemption was one of those challenged and was adopted while Lingle was Maui’s mayor. The lawsuit was vigorously and successfully defended by Lingle’s administration, resulting in the rejection of the lawsuit in state tax court and the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Lingle said:

“I congratulate the state Attorney General’s office on bringing to a successful conclusion this meritless lawsuit attacking benefits provided to native Hawaiians. I continue to believe in the constitutionality of the programs providing these benefits, which my Administration successfully defended for eight years. Even with this success, I fear these lawsuits will continue. If elected to the U.S. Senate, I will work alongside Senator Inouye to try to pass the Akaka Bill, which would provide recognition to a Native Hawaiian Governing Entity, and, hopefully, end these lawsuits forever.”

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