Dr. John M. Corboy, President of the Hawaiian Eye Foundation, is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against racial discrimination in Hawaii’s property tax rates. The Hawaiian Homes Commission Act passed by Congress in 1921 was incorporated into the State of Hawaii Constitution under terms of the act whereby Hawaii was admitted to full statehood in 1959. Under terms of HHCA, continuing to today, nobody can receive a new lease for a house on the homesteads unless he/she has at least 50% Hawaiian native blood quantum; and nobody can inherit such a lease without at least 25% native blood quantum.
HHCA act requires that every house on Hawaiian homelands must pay zero property tax for its first seven years. Thereafter, every county in Hawaii has passed ordinances setting the annual property tax for the homesteads at various flat rates between $25 to $150. Other houses of comparable size but not on a homestead must pay property taxes that are far higher. Thus there is racial discrimination by state and county governments in setting property taxes. This discrimination violates the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause.
The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled 5-0 that plaintiffs lack standing because they failed to apply for a homestead lease (even though the could never get a lease because they have no native ancestry and thus lack the 50% native blood quantum). Plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. On December 12 the Court issued an order requesting a brief from the U.S. Solicitor General on behalf of the Attorney General. Thus the Court is actively considering whether to hear the case, even while hundreds of other requests for hearings in other lawsuits have been summarily rejected without explanation.
A webpage is compiling news reports and commentaries about this lawsuit, some of which include links to legal documents. See