United States Department of Justice Files Statement of Interest in Right to Travel Lawsuit

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty IImages
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images

June 24, 2020—Last night, the United States Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in the Center for American Liberty’s lawsuit—Carmichael v. Ige. Plaintiffs Carmichael, McGowan, and Hirsch challenge Governor Ige’s restrictions on their right to travel to Hawaii arising out of his March 4, 2020 Emergency Proclamation and subsequent Supplementary Proclamations.

On June 15, 2020, the Center for American Liberty, in coordination with Hawaii attorney James Hochberg and the Dhillon Law Group, filed suit. Central to the suit is the Governor’s restriction on interstate travel to the islands requiring a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, carrying with it a criminal penalty of up to a $5,000 fine and one-year imprisonment.

Last night, the Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest in support of Plaintiffs. The DOJ asserts:

  • “Hawaii likely has transgressed the Constitution’s limits by effectively discriminating between Hawaii residents and out-of-state residents with respect to ‘the Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.’”
  • “The Constitution does not permit the effective discrimination challenged in this case. Although Hawaii may adopt reasonable measures to protect its residents from the COVID-19 pandemic, it cannot impose measures that “in practical operation” discriminate against out-of-state visitors, unless the measures are substantially related to ensuring public safety. Chalker v. Birmingham & Nw. R.R. Co., 249 U.S. 522, 527 (1919); see Hillside Dairy Inc. v. Lyons, 539 U.S. 59, 67 (2003). Hawaii’s sweeping self-quarantine mandate appears to be insufficiently tailored to ensuring public safety. As such, it cannot be enforced under Article IV’s Privileges and Immunities Clause.”
  • “In addition to contributing to the harm suffered by Hawaii’s tourism industry, the self-quarantine mandate precludes out-of-staters who own properties in Hawaii from taking advantage of opportunities available to Hawaii residents who have not left the island since the onset of the pandemic.”
  • “At least based on the evidence and argument presented thus far, Hawaii’s effective discrimination against out-of-state residents does not appear sufficiently tailored to ensuring public safety.”
  • “Moreover, the Governor could use less restrictive means to advance his interest in protecting public safety.”
  • “The Court should hold that the Hawaii Governor’s sweeping 14-day self-quarantine mandate, which effectively discriminates against out-of-state residents, likely violates Article IV’s Privileges and Immunities Clause.”

“We are very grateful to the Justice Department for joining us in defending Americans’ constitutionally protected right to travel,” said Harmeet K. Dhillon, Chief Executive Officer of the Center for American Liberty. “The Constitution guarantees Americans the liberty to indiscriminately travel from state to state. Governor Ige’s series of illegal proclamations violate that right and its implied protection under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the Constitution.”

“It is unconstitutional for Governor Ige to require a 14-day quarantine period for all interstate travel to Hawaii. Not only is the Governor ignoring the Constitution by discriminating against non-residents with legitimate reasons to travel between states, he is destroying Hawaii’s economy and exceeding his legal authority in doing so,” concluded Dhillon.


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