Sherry Broder


Hawaiians-Only' Lawsuit Thrown Out

July 12, 2001

Judge: plaintiff has no right to file suit

HONOLULU -- U.S. District Judge David Ezra dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of state-run Hawaiians-only programs Thursday, saying that the man who filed the lawsuit has no legal standing to file the complaint.

Moiliili resident Patrick Barrett challenged his being denied access to the Hawaiian Homelands program and other Hawaiian programs as unconstitutional racial discrimination.

In regards to the Hawaiian Homelands program, Ezra noted that because Congress created the Hawaiian ancestry requirement, the lawsuit wasn't valid because the U.S. Government was not named as a defendant.

"He accepted our argument that the United States needed to be a party to the lawsuit, and the United States hadn't been sued," Department of Hawaiian Homelands attorney Robert Klein said.

The lawsuit also challenged business loans made by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to people of Hawaiian ancestry. But Ezra ruled that Barrett had no legal standing because he wasn't serious about getting an OHA loan.

"He didn't take any steps including completing an application before he filed a lawsuit," OHA attorney Sherry Broder said. "So the court ruled he didn't have a real case or controversy."

Ezra also ruled that Barrett, who is considered disabled by the Social Security Administration, was not serious about challenging Native Hawaiian gathering rights."

"It's a good day," OHA chairwoman Haunani Apoliona said. "Of course we're realists and pragmatists knowing that anyone else can file another lawsuit."

Ezra pointed out that his ruling on the motion to dismiss Barrett's lawsuit had nothing to do with the merits of the case, only his legal standing to file a complaint.

Barrett's attorney said that he would appeal the decision and possibly re-file the lawsuit with additional plaintiffs.

"This issue is not going to go away and neither are we," Barrett's attorney, Patrick Hanifin said.

"I can certainly say we are prepared to defend the case on the merits," Broder responded. "The history of Native Hawaiian people is exactly the same as the history of other native people. And there's no reason why Native Hawaiians shouldn't be treated the same as Navajos who have reservations and have trust funds."

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