League of Women Voters of Honolulu & Common Cause v. State of Hawaii

League of Women Voters of Honolulu and Common Cause challenged whether the process for adopting Act 84 (2018) complied with the Hawaii Constitution.  The lawsuit focused on the gut-and-replace legislative process that makes it difficult for members of the public and the Legislature to follow, understand, and provide meaningful comments on legislation.  Specifically, in 2018, halfway through the legislative session, the Legislature gutted S.B. 2858 (a bill that concerned reports made by the Department of Public Safety)–removing all content except its vague title (“Relating to Public Safety”)–and replaced the original content with a completely unrelated bill about hurricane resistant shelter space.  Plaintiffs claimed that the process violated the subject-in-title and three readings requirements of the Hawaii Constitution. The Honorable Gary Chang granted the State summary judgment. Civil No. 18-1-1376-09 GWBC.

Plaintiffs appealed that decision on May 2, 2019.  On December 18, the Hawaii Supreme Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion to transfer the case.  The Hawaii Supreme Court heard oral argument on August 5, 2020. On November 4, 2021, in a 3-2 decision, the Hawaii Supreme Court held that the three readings requirement of the Hawaii Constitution requires that amendments to a bill must be germane to the original body of the bill, that the hurricane shelter version of S.B. 2858 was not germane to original version of the bill, and that the resulting law was void because it was adopted by an unconstitutional process. CAAP-19-372.  SCAP-19-372.