Maui Coronavirus Updates

Lawsuit Claims Ige’s COVID-19 Emergency Orders are Unconstitutional; State Says the Challenge is “Without Merit”

June 16, 2020, 12:40 PM HST
* Updated June 16, 3:51 PM
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Kahului Airport on Friday, March 27, 2020.

By Wendy Osher

A nonprofit public policy organization has filed a federal lawsuit against Governor David Ige alleging his orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic are unconstitutional.

The Center for American Liberty in conjunction with The Dhillon Law Group and attorney James Hochberg filed the lawsuit on behalf of plaintiffs.  The Charmichael v. Ige suit argues that the orders and quarantine for out-of-state arrivals deprive the public of their constitutional right to travel, due process and equal protection.

Krishna F. Jayaram, Special Assistant to the Attorney General responded to Maui Now’s request for comment saying, “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 Hawaiʻi.  Plaintiffs’ allegations—including alleged constitutional violations stemming from the Governor’s actions—are without merit.”

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki also issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon regarding the lawsuits filed by the Freedom Law Firm and Center for American Liberty in the Hawaiʻi federal district court saying:

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“Due to our population size, Hawaiʻi requires extra safeguards to protect our families and resources during this pandemic. These lawsuits were filed by mainland entities on behalf of Hawaiʻi and non-Hawaiʻi residents. People who do not want to live with aloha and respect for others risk the health and safety of everyone.”

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The lawsuit alleges that Ige’s order deprives plaintiffs Holly and Aaron Carmichael the ability to stay in their Maui condo, Oʻahu resident Brooke McGowan from visiting her daughter and grandmother who live on the mainland, and Russell Hirsch the ability to tend to his house and farm in Kailua and Hilo.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say most of their clients own property in Hawaiʻi and are “precluded from tending to their properties,” and one client has been unable to visit family on the mainland “during times of important need.”

The Center for American Liberty has sent demand letters or filed over a dozen lawsuits against the governors of California, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey for what they call “over-reaching power grabs” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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