Hicks v. 2021 Hawai‘i Reapportionment Comm'n, SCPW-22-0000078

CourtSupreme Court of Hawai'i
Writing for the CourtOPINION OF THE COURT BY EDDINS, J.
Citation151 Hawai‘i 102,508 P.3d 1188
Parties William M. HICKS; Ralph Boyea; Madge Schaefer; Michaela Ikeuchi; Kimeona Kane; Maki Morinoue; Roberta Mayor; Deborah Ward; Jennifer Lienhart-Tsuji; Larry S. Veray; and Philip Barnes, Petitioners, v. The 2021 HAWAI‘I REAPPORTIONMENT COMMISSION and Its Members; the State of Hawai‘i Office of Elections; and Scott Nago, in his official capacity as Chief Elections Officer, State of Hawai‘i, Respondents.
Docket NumberSCPW-22-0000078
Decision Date09 May 2022

151 Hawai‘i 102
508 P.3d 1188

William M. HICKS; Ralph Boyea; Madge Schaefer; Michaela Ikeuchi; Kimeona Kane; Maki Morinoue; Roberta Mayor; Deborah Ward; Jennifer Lienhart-Tsuji; Larry S. Veray; and Philip Barnes, Petitioners,
v.
The 2021 HAWAI‘I REAPPORTIONMENT COMMISSION and Its Members; the State of Hawai‘i Office of Elections; and Scott Nago, in his official capacity as Chief Elections Officer, State of Hawai‘i, Respondents.

SCPW-22-0000078

Supreme Court of Hawai‘i.

MAY 9, 2022


Mateo Caballero, for petitioners

Lauren K. Chun (Patricia Ohara, Honolulu, Lori N. Tanigawa, and Reese R. Nakamura on the briefs), for respondents

RECKTENWALD, C.J., NAKAYAMA, AND EDDINS, JJ.; WITH McKENNA, J., CONCURRING SEPARATELY AND DISSENTING, WITH WHOM WILSON, J., JOINS; AND WILSON, J., ALSO DISSENTING SEPARATELY1

OPINION OF THE COURT BY EDDINS, J.

Article IV of the Hawai‘i Constitution concerns reapportionment, the process through which the state's legislators are distributed and its political districts redrawn.

It provides that every ten years a nine-member reapportionment commission (the

508 P.3d 1190

commission) shall determine the total number of state representatives to which each basic island unit2 is entitled. Haw. Const. art. IV, §§ 1, 2 & 4. This determination is made "using the total number of permanent residents in each of the basic island units" and with the "method of equal proportions." Id.

Once the commission determines how many representatives each basic island unit is entitled to, it must apportion those representatives within the basic island units. Id. at § 6. If there have been population shifts in the decade since the last reapportionment, the commission must redraw district lines to ensure that the "number of permanent residents per member in each district is as nearly equal to the average for the basic island unit as practicable." Id.

The commission is also tasked with redrawing congressional district lines. Id. at § 9.

Article IV, section 6 provides eight criteria that the commission "shall be guided by" in effecting redistricting. The sixth is that: "[w]here practicable, [state] representative districts shall be wholly included within [state] senatorial districts" (the constitutional district within district guideline). Id. at § 6. Hawai‘i Revised Statutes (HRS) Section 25-2(b)(5) (Supp. 2021) (the statutory district within district guideline) similarly requires that "[w]here practicable, state legislative [representative and senatorial] districts shall be wholly included within [U.S.] congressional districts."

On January 28, 2022, the 2021 Hawai‘i Reapportionment Commission (the Commission) approved the 2021 Final Legislative Reapportionment Plan (the Plan).

The Plan places 33 of 51 house districts (64.7%) into two or more senate districts. It also places four O‘ahu house districts and five O‘ahu senate districts into both U.S. congressional districts.

Petitioners, who are registered voters in the State of Hawai‘i, argue that the Plan is invalid because it does not give adequate effect to article I, section 6's guidance that "[w]here practicable, representative districts shall be wholly included within senatorial districts." See Haw. Const. art. IV, § 6. They also argue that the Plan violates HRS § 25-2(b)(5) by placing nine O‘ahu legislative districts into both congressional districts.3 Petitioners say they submitted two plans to the Commission that not only complied with the district within district guidelines, but also had a lower average per-district population deviation than the Plan. Petitioners say the Commission could have complied with article IV, section 6 and HRS § 25-2(b)(5), it just didn't want to. Petitioners also argue that less than perfect compliance with one of the district within district guidelines may only be justified by the need to comply with the other constitutional and statutory guidelines that govern reapportionment.

The Commission says it satisfied its obligations under article IV, section 6 and HRS § 25-2(b) by considering the constitutional and statutory district within district guidelines (collectively the district within district guidelines) in developing the Plan. It says Petitioners have not demonstrated that the Commission abused its discretion in discharging its duties and adopting the Plan.

508 P.3d 1191

We agree. The constitution and HRS § 25-2(b) mandate that, in redistricting, the commission "shall be guided" by certain enumerated criteria, among them the district within district guidelines. The commission is not required to give the district within district guidelines any particular effect. Nor is it required to disregard factors other than the criteria enumerated in article IV, section 6 or HRS § 25-2(b) in redrawing district lines. So the Commission discharged its obligations under article IV, section 6 and HRS § 25-2(b) by considering the district within district guidelines alongside other policy objectives. And, by extension, the Plan is valid.

I. BACKGROUND

At its May 17, 2021 meeting, the Commission formed a "technical" committee consisting of four commissioners. The Commission tasked the technical committee with drafting proposed reapportionment plans for the Commission's consideration.

The technical committee presented its proposed reapportionment plans to the Commission at the Commission's January 13, 2022 meeting.4

At that same meeting, there was public testimony demanding that the Commission explain its failure to better effectuate the district within district guidelines.

Responding to this public testimony, Commissioner Nonaka explained that because of the incongruity between the population bases used in congressional districts and those used in state legislative districts, it was not possible, let alone practicable, to have all state districts wholly within a congressional district.

Later at the same meeting, Commission Chair Mugiishi stressed that the Commission was holistically evaluating the constitutional and statutory requirements governing reapportionment and trying to balance them in a way that responded to community concerns. He explained:

[W]e are as a Commission considering all of those statutory requirements and constitutional requirements that that [sic] is asked of us and we are doing our best to make sure to the extent that it's practicable that we are following them. But sometimes they're in conflict with each other and that's where that's why we have a commission rather than a computer program drawing these lines. It's because human beings who are going to care about people and individual neighborhoods, are going to make judgment calls on what's the best way to make a practical decision about a conflict between two principles. And that's why I think again, and I've said it about four times already, but I really do appreciate the work of the technical committee because they've been doing this now for weeks, months, and for the last few days every single hour of the day to try and consider all of those factors. Because we're going to affect people and that's so we're going to follow the constitution, we're going to follow the law and we're going to do our best to take care of people.

The Commission also met on January 20, 21, 22, and 26, 2022.

At the Commission's January 20, 2022 meeting, Chair Mugiishi read the article IV, section 6 guidelines aloud and explained that "after due consideration the members of the technical committee believed that the modified proposed plans represent what they the technical committee deemed to be the best, best complies with the constitutional guidelines." Commissioners Ono, Nonaka, and Nekota agreed with the Chair's assessment. Commissioner Nekota added "We really did take public testimony to heart. We did not just go draw lines to draw lines. We really did and follow the Constitution, as we perceive it to be, along with our legal counsel."

During the January 26, 2022 meeting, the technical committee presented and discussed

508 P.3d 1192

a new version of its proposed final legislative reapportionment plans; the only change it had made to the proposed maps since January 13, 2022, was to the boundaries of House Districts 48 and 49 on O‘ahu.

At the January 28, 2022 Commission meeting, the Commission discussed, and then voted to approve, the January 26, 2022 version of the legislative reapportionment plans. In explaining his support for the motion to approve the Plan, Commissioner Chun pointed to the Commission's commitment to ensuring that its redistricting decisions were made in the context of the article IV, section 6 guidelines:

The constitution states that in effecting such redistricting, the commission shall be guided by the following criteria. It sets forth guidance rather than inflexible standards so as to ensure reasonableness and fairness are always a part of the equation in arriving at redistricting determinations. I have observed complete objectivity and clear commitment to ensuring that good decisions were made in the context of these guidelines and as they were applied to the redistricting maps, so I will be pleased today to support the motion [to adopt the Plan].
...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT