Big Island Coronavirus Updates

DOJ Issues Official Support For Lawsuit Against Ige, Travel Quarantine

June 24, 2020, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated June 24, 1:48 AM
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The Center For American Liberty, on behalf of residents of Nevada and California who own property in Hawai‘i, filed a federal lawsuit last week against Governor David Ige over his implementation of a mandatory, 14-day quarantine for any travelers entering the state.

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in Hawai‘i federal court in support of the plaintiffs, in which it stated that the quarantine order discriminates against out-of-state residents, hinders the Constitutional right to travel, and negatively impacts the state’s tourism industry.

DOJ said in a press release that its Statement of Interest is part of an initiative from Attorney General William P. Barr directing Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Matthew Schneider, to review state and local policies to “ensure that civil liberties are protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Reasonable measures designed to protect the public are not only appropriate but responsible during a pandemic, and the Constitution does not bind the hands of state officials who, through careful thought and deliberation impose such measures,” said Kenji M. Price, the US Attorney for the District of Hawai‘i. “However, there are bounds to the discretion our public officials have during times of crisis.”

“Those bounds are shaped by constitutional safeguards, such as the right of Hawai‘i residents and persons who hail from other states to travel freely within this great country,” he continued. “As our state leaders consider the way forward with Hawai‘i’s 14-day quarantine, it is my hope that they will pay due consideration to the protections embedded in the Constitution, so that visitors from far and wide may experience the Aloha spirit that makes Hawai‘i such a special place.”

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The Hawai‘i Department of the Attorney General filed its own Statement of Interest in defense of Governor Ige, saying the proclamations he has made regarding the travel quarantine are squarely within his purview considering the threat travel poses to public health across the state.

“The Department of Justice’s statement of interest filed in the Carmichael v. Ige matter is, like the plaintiff’s allegations, without merit,” the Office of the Hawai‘i Attorney General wrote. “The Governor’s Emergency Proclamation for COVID-19 and the subsequent proclamations were properly and lawfully issued pursuant to the Governor’s statutory authority and his determination that an emergency exists due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the danger and threat it poses to Hawai‘i.”

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Current penalties for violating the mandatory quarantine order are a fine of up to $5,000 and/or one year in jail.

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