Plaintiffs are rushing to amend a federal lawsuit after Gov. David Ige yesterday extended the out-of-state quarantine another month.
More than a dozen Hawaii residents sued the governor and the state earlier this week. They say Ige’s continuous COVID-related emergency proclamations — now numbering 10 of them — are unconstitutional, have gone on too long, and violate civil rights.
They also formed a new nonprofit association called “For Our Rights.” The plaintiffs allege harms ranging from loss of income and business destruction, to anxiety, depression and even physical pain.
“We think we’re dealing with irreparable harm, things that you can’t fix,” said Marc Victor, attorney for plaintiffs, from The Attorneys For Freedom Law Firm. “Every day that goes by people are losing money, businesses are going out, unemployment is going up. We need action right now.”
The state attorney general’s office said in a statement: “The Governor’s Emergency Proclamation for COVID-19 and the subsequent supplementary 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 Hawaii. Plaintiffs’ allegations—including alleged constitutional violations stemming from the Governor’s actions—are without merit.”
Whether a judge will grant the restraining order and void the emergency proclamations remains to be seen. A status conference is set for Friday in federal court.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Honolulu had no comment on this particular case but had said previously that it “may “file a statement of interest in litigation brought by another party.”
U.S. Attorney Kenji Price told KHON2 this previously, regarding shut-down orders: “The Department of Justice respects and recognizes the significant legal authority our state and local officials have to protect our communities during an emergency. The rapid spread of COVID-19 presents such an emergency, and may justify certain restrictions imposed by state and local officials. However, restrictions must last only as long as they are absolutely necessary, and state and local officials should tailor them as the situation progresses. Importantly, decisions regarding what businesses are “non-essential” should not be arbitrary. The Department of Justice will monitor restrictions imposed by officials here in Hawaii and elsewhere, and may take action when they raise concerns under the U.S. Constitution or federal law. However, it is important to note that our ability to intervene is not limitless, and in many cases we do not have authority to intervene on our own, but must file a statement of interest in litigation brought by another party. Our assessment of whether and when to intervene in any given case will depend upon the facts and, of course, what we believe best serves the interests of justice.”