Monday, February 03, 2014

Hawaii Supreme Court Says Permit Requirement To Enter Reserve Did Not Infringe Free Exercise Rights

In State v. Armitage, (HI Sup. Ct., Jan. 28, 2014), the Hawaii Supreme Court held that the rights of Native Hawaiians are not infringed by a statute limiting entry into the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve only to those who obtain authorization to do so through a written application process.  Defendants claim they were traveling to the island to proclaim the right of the "Reinstated Kingdom of Hawaii" to the island. The court rejected defendants' arguments that their entry was protected by the Art. XII, Sec. 7 of the Hawaii Constitution which protects the right to engage in traditional and customary Native Hawaiian subsistence, cultural and religious practices. It also rejected their contention that the Native Hawaiian people have a fundamental right to reestablish an autonomous sovereign government. Finally the court rejected defendants' claims that their free expression and free exercise rights were infringed. The court held that the written application process required to obtain entry did not impose a substantial burden on defendants' religious exercise.

Chief Justice Recktenwald wrote a separate opinion in which Justice Nakayama joined concurring with these views, but dissenting as to an unrelated issue.