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Thursday, July 11, 2013
Federal Court Rejects Challenge to Hawaii Reapportionment Plan
By Selected News Articles @ 9:45 PM :: 3646 Views :: Office of Elections

From text of today's ruling:

"...we conclude that the 2012 Reapportionment Plan does not violate the United States Constitution. The Commission’s reliance on a permanent resident population base, as ordered by the Hawaii Supreme Court, is permissible under the Equal Protection Clause. Likewise, the disparities in the size of the Commission’s legislative districts pass constitutional muster...."

Link: FULL TEXT PDF

Oahu Reapportionment Chair: Honolulu U.S. District Court's Residency Decision Diminishes Citizenship of 108,000 Americans

Challenge to redistricting plan again falls short in federal court

SA: An attorney representing the eight voters who sued to try to stop the 2012 elections from being held using that plan said he expects to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We always believed that the issues in this case merited resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court," attorney Robert Thomas said in an email. "We were hoping that a favorable decision from the Hawaii District Court would save us from taking it further, but alas no."...

Thomas argued that excluding nonpermanent residents violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit also contends the commission created districts of unequal size, leading to disproportionate representation in the state Legislature.

"Everything I've read so far leads me to believe that the Supreme Court will be interested in reviewing this decision, and in resolving the issues in our favor," Thomas said....

read ... Next Step Certiorari

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Appeal to US Supreme Court Considered

HTH: Honolulu attorney Robert Thomas, representing the group, said in an email Thursday he is considering appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court....

The Reapportionment Commission had first tried to draw maps with the nonresident service members, dependents and students included. The Hawaii Supreme Court made the commission redraw the maps after a successful lawsuit by state Sen. Malama Solomon, former Hawaii County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Pavao and party committee members Louis Hao and Patti Cook. In addition, Kona attorney Michael Matsukawa filed his own lawsuit on behalf of the public.

The federal ruling Thursday takes into account Solomon’s experience representing a canoe district of parts of the Big Island and parts of Maui. The judges agreed that canoe districts were unsatisfactory to both elected officials and the public.

“Unlike the counties of any other state, Hawaii’s basic island units are separated by 30 to 70 miles of open ocean,” the ruling said. “Creating districts of equal population would require canoe districts spanning the ocean and comprised of different basic island units.”

Solomon was pleased with the newest ruling.

“That’s why we have the census and the numbers,” Solomon said Thursday. “I am very happy the Big Island gets to keep its fourth Senate seat.”

read ... Reapportionment lawsuit dismissed

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COURT APPROVES STATE REAPPORTIONMENT PLAN

News Release from State Attorney General July 11, 2013

Honolulu – The Department of the Attorney General announced that a three judge panel at the Federal District Court has ruled in favor of the State of Hawaii 2011 Reapportionment Commission on a challenge to the State's 2012 Reapportionment Plan. The Plan followed the Hawaii State Constitution's requirement to use "permanent residents" as the population base, by extracting non-resident military and non-resident students. The Court's decision also approved the part of the Plan that maintained all districts within the boundaries of basic island units and did not create any "canoe" districts that combined parts of different counties.

"Today's court ruling validates and supports the work of the Reapportionment Commission," according to Attorney General David Louie. "The court recognized the significant public policies which underlie the Reapportionment Plan and are embodied in the Hawaii State Constitution. These policies were also supported by a recent decision of the Hawaii Supreme Court." The Court said it is permissible to extract non-resident military and students from the population base and this process does not violate Equal Protection under the U.S. Constitution. The Hawaii State Constitution makes clear that the population base is limited to permanent residents only, and the Court ruled that this is constitutionally permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

Attorney General Louie explained that, "The Court noted that the military is a significant and welcome presence in Hawaii's population. The Court also recognized that the Plan does not exclude the entire military population, but only non-resident military personnel and students who do not register to vote or pay taxes in Hawaii. The Court further noted that this was a policy choice made by the people of Hawaii, because whether the Commission included or excluded non-resident military and students could lead to issues of underrepresentation or overrepresentation in either case."

The Court decision also affirmed that although there were some numerical inequalities, the process of maintaining basic island units to avoid "canoe" districts for purposes of districting, as specified in Hawaii's State Constitution, is allowable. The Court noted that the uncontested evidentiary record showed that neither voters nor representatives liked the idea of "canoe" districts when they had previously been imposed. The Court found that given Hawaii's unique geography, history, and culture, the Reapportionment Commission drew the best lines for districting that it could under the circumstances.

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