The US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a statement of interest Tuesday in a lawsuit that challenges Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine for visitors entering the state.
Under Hawaii Governor David Yutaka Ige’s latest COVID-19 executive order, the Ninth Supplementary Proclamation, residents who remained in Hawaii since the beginning of the pandemic are free to travel between islands. However, out-of-staters must self-quarantine in one location for two weeks before they are allowed to travel between islands.
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Hawaii by California and Nevada residents who own property in Hawaii. In support of the lawsuit, the DOJ claimed that Hawaii’s self-quarantine requirement discriminates against out-of-state residents. The discrimination does not seem to be adequately tailored to further public safety, which means it does not comply with the Constitution.
Civil Rights Division Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said:
The United States Constitution requires government to protect the privileges and immunities of all citizens in our nation. These privileges and immunities include the right of Americans to travel freely anywhere in our country, and state governments cannot limit the right of out-of-state Americans to travel to their state unless doing so is substantially related to protecting the public safety. The Department of Justice remains committed to defending the constitutional rights of all Americans no matter where they live. The department will continue to be especially vigilant of any infringement on the right to travel that unduly harms the ability of Americans to earn a living and support their families.
Hawaii’s governor is allowed to take reasonable steps to protect public safety, but he must show that the discrimination against out-of-state residents is substantially related to that goal.
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