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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–SCAP-19-0000372

No. SCAP-19-0000372, Wednesday, August 5, 2020, 10 a.m.

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF HONOLULU and COMMON CAUSE, Petitioners/Plaintiffs-Appellants, vs. STATE OF HAWAII, Respondent/Defendant-Appellee.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

The oral argument was held remotely and was live-streamed for public viewing via the Judiciary’s YouTube channel at

Attorneys for Plaintiffs-Appellants League of Women Voters:

Robert Brian Black and Lisa Emily Engebretsen of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest

Attorney for Defendant-Appellee State of Hawaii:

Kimberly Tsumoto Guidry, Solicitor General

NOTE:  Order granting Application for Transfer, filed 12/18/19.

NOTE:   Certificate of Recusal, by Associate Justice Richard W. Pollack, filed 05/22/20.

NOTE:   Order assigning Circuit Court Judge Shirley M. Kawamura, in place of Pollack, J., recused, filed 05/22/20.

COURT:  Recktenwald, C.J., Nakayama, McKenna, and Wilson, JJ., and Circuit Court Judge Kawamura, in place of Pollack, J., recused.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Plaintiffs-Appellants League of Women Voters of Honolulu and Common Cause (collectively “Plaintiffs-Appellants”) appeal the circuit court’s final judgment, which granted Defendant-Appellee the State of Hawaii’s (the State) motion for summary judgment.  Plaintiffs-Appellants appealed the circuit court’s decision to the Intermediate Court of Appeals and this court granted Plaintiffs-Appellants’ application for transfer.

Plaintiffs-Appellants challenge the adoption of a law requiring the State to consider hurricane shelter space when designing new public schools.  They contend that the bill was not validly adopted because the bill did not receive three readings in each house of the Hawai‘i State Legislature and the title — “A Bill for an Act Relating to Public Safety” — was overly broad.  The bill as originally introduced in the Senate required annual reporting of recidivism statistics.  After the bill crossed over to the House, it was amended to require hurricane shelter space in new State buildings and all reference to recidivism reporting was deleted.       

On appeal, Plaintiffs-Appellants contend that the bill was adopted through an unconstitutional process and therefore is void as unconstitutional.  First, they argue that the bill’s enactment violated article III, section 15 of the Hawaii Constitution because after the House made non-germane amendments to the recidivism reporting bill, the Senate did not hold the required three readings to consider the hurricane shelter bill.  Second, they argue that the bill’s title violates article III, section 14 of the Hawai‘i Constitution because “Relating to Public Safety” is overly broad and vague, and thus fails to provide the public with proper notice of the bill’s content.