The State of Washington and 28 other states and commonwealth have filed an amicus brief in support of the State of Hawaii's petition for a writ of certiorari in the ceded lands case, Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, No. 07-1372 (cert. petition filed Apr. 29, 2008). In that case, the State seeks U.S. Supreme Court review of the decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court in Office of Hawaiian Affairs v. Housing and Community Dev. Corp. of Hawaii, 117 Haw. 174, 177 P.3d 884 (Jan. 31, 2008). In that decision, the Hawaii Supreme Court, relying on the "Apology Resolution," enjoined the State of Hawaii from conveying 1.2 million acres of state-owned land until a political settlement is reached with Native Hawaiians about the status of that land.
The brief of the twenty-nine states asserts:
The Supreme Court of Hawaii misconstrued the 1993 Apology Resolution.... Notwithstanding express language showing that Congress had simply adopted a symbolic apology, the Hawaii court held that the Apology Resolution singled out and diminished the state's title to lands received at statehood.
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The twenty-nine amicus states and commonwealth ask the Court to grant the petition for two reasons. First the rule of law adopted by the Hawaii court conflicts with this Court's holding regarding lands granted to the states. This Court's decisions recognize that land cannot be taken from a state after it is granted at statehood. The Hawaii court's ruling to the contrary is inconsistent with the plan of federalism in the Constitution. Second, the case involves a gross misapplication of federal law to impair the title to the majority of land owned by a sovereign state. A question of federal law of the magnitude presented by this case concerning the legal interests of a sovereign state in its state lands merits the attention of this Court.