Judge Disregards US Support Of Hawaii Quarantine Challenge

Jun 25, 2020

Updated 6/25/20, 1:12 p.m.

HONOLULU — A judge said she will "disregard" the U.S. Department of Justice's statement in support of a lawsuit challenging Hawaii's quarantine, imposed on arriving travelers in an attempt to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

The Justice Department's statement said the quarantine discriminates against out-of-state travelers, even though it applies to both visitors and returning residents.

A group of people living in Hawaii, California and Nevada filed a lawsuit that says the quarantine is unfair and unnecessary.

In an order issued late Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jill Otake said she will disregard the Justice Department's statement when deciding whether to issue temporary restraining order against the quarantine.

The statement amounts to an attempt by the Justice Department to amend the lawsuit in a case where it is not a plaintiff, Otake said.

"The United States Department of Justice is duty-bound to defend the Constitutional rights of all people in our nation, and we will continue to do so," the department said in a statement Thursday. "These rights include the right of citizens to travel freely anywhere in our country."

Earlier Wednesday, Democratic Gov. David Ige announced that starting Aug. 1, travelers will be able to bypass the quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19.

Otake on Thursday asked the plaintiffs to address the impact of Ige's testing program on their claims.

Harmeet Dhillon, a San Francisco attorney representing the plaintiffs, said Ige's plans are still unclear and won't go into effect immediately.

Plaintiffs in a separate but similar lawsuit dropped their case Thursday.