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ATG NEWS RELEASE: U.S. Supreme Court turns down further review of Hawaii’s open primary elections

Posted on May 18, 2017 in Latest Department News

On Monday, May 15, 2017, the United States Supreme Court declined to review the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s challenge to the State’s open primary elections.  This leaves in place the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision from last year upholding the constitutionality of Hawaii’s open primary elections.  The Supreme Court also turned down a similar case in litigation against the state of Montana.

In August 2016, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Democratic Party did not show that the open primary system burdens its associational rights.  The Party offered no evidence that the open primary impacted its candidates or messages. The Ninth Circuit noted that Hawaii’s voters may vote in only one party’s primary election.

“After nearly four years of litigation, Monday’s order means that this challenge to Hawaii’s open primary system has been brought to an entirely successful conclusion,” said Attorney General Doug Chin.

The case, Democratic Party of Hawaii v. Nago, was originally filed in the federal district court in Hawaii.  In November 2013, Judge J. Michael Seabright ruled in the State’s favor, upholding the open primary.  The Democratic Party of Hawaii appealed.  The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in May 2016.

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For more information, contact:

James W. Walther

Deputy Attorney General

Phone: (808) 586-1284

Email: [email protected]


Twitter: @ATGHIgov