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U.S. Supreme Court to hear ceded lands case


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the state’s appeal of a lower court decision that forbid the state from selling or exchanging ceded lands until a political settlement was reached with Native Hawaiians.

Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett announced this morning that the nation’s top court would likely hear oral arguments  State of Hawaii et al. vs. Office of Hawaiian Affairs early next year, and likely issue a decision by June.

The Lingle administration is appealing a January state Supreme Court decision that Congress, in its 1993 Apology Resolution for the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom, had forbidden the transfer of land until Native Hawaiian claims against the government were settled.

The Hawaii Supreme Court decision barred the state from disposing of 1.2 million acres on Maui and the Big Island that once belonged to the former Hawaiian monarchy.

The case started with a 1994 lawsuit by the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs and four individuals who want the state to hold onto the land until Native Hawaiian claims are settled.

”;It is our hope that the United States Supreme Court will reverse the decision of the Hawaii Supreme Court. Hawaii's ceded lands are held by the state for the benefit of all of Hawaii's citizens, and for a number of purposes, including the betterment of the conditions of Native Hawaiians,”; Bennett said.