Hawaii Legislature Becomes Nation's First to Pass Pro-Civil Liberties Bill

Affiliate: ACLU of Hawaii
April 29, 2003 12:00 am

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ACLU of Hawaii
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HONOLULU - The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii today applauded the state legislature for being the first in the nation to stand up for the rights of individuals by passing a joint resolution affirming and protecting the individual liberties of all the people of Hawaii and calling for the repeal of the most egregious provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act.

""The actions of the legislature truly represent the Aloha state - we are a diverse people, and we have a long, proud tradition of respecting human rights and upholding civil liberties,"" said Vanessa Y. Chong, Executive Director of the ACLU of Hawaii. ""We are proud to be the first state, hopefully of many, to recognize that our safety need not come at the expense of our individual rights and freedoms. This resolution sends a clear message to America - Hawaii want to remain both safe and free.""

The Hawaii House of Representatives adopted the ""Reaffirming the State of Hawaii's Commitment to Civil Liberties and the Bill of Rights"" Resolution on Friday, on a 35 to 12 vote. The Hawaii Senate had approved the measure earlier this month.

The legislature's action was a response to the USA PATRIOT Act, which was rushed through Congress with little deliberation in the immediate aftermath of September 11. The broad and overreaching bill contains many provisions that erode checks and balances on law enforcement and threaten personal privacy and civil liberties.

The resolution finds that many of the federal government's recent actions ""pose significant threats to Constitutional protections""; it further instructs aw enforcement in Hawaii to uphold the human rights, civil liberties and constitutional protections of Hawaii people. Furthermore, the state legislature calls upon the Hawaii Congressional delegation to work to repeal sections of the USA PATRIOT Act, other federal legislation, and Executive Orders that violate or place an undue burden on personal freedoms.

""In their attempt to make America safer, Washington also unnecessarily made America less free. Recent actions have granted the government too many powers; they went too far too fast,"" said Chong. ""Many of the powers can be used against innocent Americans, indeed, many of the powers are not specifically tied to anti-terrorism efforts. Hawaii proudly stands as the first state to demand that our civil liberties and personal freedoms not be eroded under the guise of national security.""

Ninety-three communities in 23 states across the country have passed similar resolutions. A similar resolution opposing the USA PATRIOT Act passed overwhelmingly with strong bipartisan support in the New Mexico House of Representatives, although it failed to reach the New Mexico Senate floor in time for a vote before the end of the legislative term. The city of Juneau, Alaska passed a similar resolution late Monday night.

The text of the Legislation can be found at:
http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessioncurrent/bills/scr18_.htm

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