Stories about Hawaii

Hawaii state Senator Harimoto dies

Hawaii state Senator Breene Harimoto (D) died on June 18. He had represented District 16 in the Hawaii State Senate since 2014 and previously served on the Honolulu City Council from 2012 to 2014. Governor David Ige (D) has sixty days to appoint a replacement to represent Harimoto’s district in the chamber.

Harimoto’s death creates the only vacancy in the Hawaii state legislature. The partisan composition of the state Senate is currently 23 Democrats and one Republican in addition to Harimoto’s vacant seat. The Hawaii House of Representatives has 46 Democratic and five Republican members. Hawaii has had a Democratic state government trifecta since 2010, and the Democratic Party has held a majority in the state legislature since 1992.

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Hawaii governor extends travel restrictions for international and out-of-state travelers

On June 10, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) extended the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for those traveling to Hawaii from international or out-of-state locations through the end of July. Beginning June 16, the Hawaii National Guard will check passengers’ temperatures arriving through Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Each passenger will also need to have their travel verified and are required to sign a mandatory order for self-quarantine.

Governors or state agencies issued 21 executive orders placing restrictions on out-of-state visitors in response to the coronavirus pandemic. At least nine have been rescinded.

Hawaii extends stay-at-home order

On April 25, 2020, Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced he was extending the statewide stay-at-home order through May 31. The order was originally scheduled to expire on April 30.

The order states that Hawaii residents can only leave home for essential purposes, such as buying food or receiving medical care. Outdoor activity is permitted so long as proper social distancing is followed.

Additionally, the order extends the state’s eviction moratorium and travel restriction. The travel restriction requires visitors and residents who enter the state to self-quarantine for 14 days. Inter-island travelers are also required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

SCOTUS issues opinions in cases concerning immigration, trademark use, and the Clean Water Act (CWA)

On April 23, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued rulings in three cases argued during its October Term 2019-2020.

1. Barton v. Barr, a case that concerned immigration law, originated from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and was argued on November 4, 2019.

  • The issue: “Whether a lawfully admitted permanent resident who is not seeking admission to the United States can be “render[ed] … inadmissible” for the purposes of the stop-time rule, 8 U.S.C. § 1229b(d)(l).”
  • The outcome: The court affirmed the decision of the 11th Circuit in a 5-4 ruling, holding that for purposes of cancellation-of-removal eligibility, a §1182(a)(2) offense committed during the initial seven years of residence does not need to be one of the offenses of removal

2. County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, a case that concerned the Clean Water Act (CWA), originated from the 9th Circuit and was argued on November 6, 2019.

  • The issue: “Whether the CWA requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater.”
  • The outcome: The court vacated and remanded the 9th Circuit’s decision in a 6-3 ruling. The court held “a permit is required when there is a discharge from a point source directly into navigable waters or when there is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge.” In the majority opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the 9th Circuit’s holding was too broad, while the petitioner’s argument was too narrow.

3. Romag Fasteners v. Fossil, a case that concerned trademark law, originated in the Federal Circuit and was argued on January 14, 2020.

  • The issue: “Whether, under section 35 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1117(a), willful infringement is a prerequisite for an award of an infringer’s profits for a violation of section 43(a), id. § 1125(a).”
  • The outcome: The court vacated and remanded the decision of the Federal Circuit in a 9-0 ruling, holding that a plaintiff in a trademark infringement suit is not required to show that a defendant willfully infringed the plaintiff’s trademark as a pre-condition to a profits award.

As of April 23, 2020, the court had issued decisions in 26 cases this term. Between 2007 and 2018, SCOTUS released opinions in 924 cases, averaging between 70 and 90 cases per year.

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Supreme Court of Georgia holds oral argument via video conferencing

On April 20, 2020, The Supreme Court of Georgia held oral arguments via video conferencing. It is the first time in the court’s 175 year history that arguments were held virtually.

Ballotpedia is tracking how state courts are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

Other recent updates include:
  • Colorado – The Colorado Supreme Court extended its suspension of jury trials through June
  • Hawaii – The Hawaii Supreme Court issued an order extending its suspension of jury trials through May 29 or the expiration of the state of emergency. The order also authorizes local chief judges to resume jury trials earlier.