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Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal Challenge to the Appointment of Schatz to Senate

January 26, 2018, 8:30 AM HST
* Updated January 25, 3:27 PM
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On Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Hawai‘i federal court’s dismissal of a challenge to then Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s appointment of then Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz to fill the vacancy in the U.S. Senate that occurred after Sen. Daniel K. Inouye passed away on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012.

On Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, five days before a general election for the Senate seat, Plaintiffs Eugene Hamamoto and John Roco filed a lawsuit claiming that the Governor’s appointment of Sen. Schatz and the pending election violated their Constitutional rights under the 17th Amendment. Sen. Schatz won the election and the federal court then dismissed the lawsuit as moot. The decision by the Ninth Circuit affirms the dismissal on the same grounds.

Hawai‘i Solicitor General Clyde J. Wadsworth argued for the State of Hawai‘i parties before the Ninth Circuit. Plaintiffs were represented by Honolulu attorney James Hochberg and the Chicago firm Depres Schwartz & Geoghegan, Ltd.

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