New maps for Hawaii’s legislative districts will stay as they are after the state Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a legal challenge to those maps.

The high court decided 3-2 against taking up a petition brought by Oahu, Maui and Big Island residents who sought to overturn maps drawn by the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission. The commission has faced accusations of gerrymandering and political favoritism.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald joined Associate Justices Paula Nakayama and Todd Eddins in denying the petition. Associate Justices Michael Wilson and Sabrina McKenna plan to file a dissenting opinion.

Hawaii State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald listens to oral arguments on a reapportionment case.
Hawaii State Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, right, and Associate Justice Paula Nakayama, left, joined Todd Eddins in striking down a petition that sought to overturn new legislative district maps. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

The brief, two-page order does not provide the majority’s reasons for denying the petition. An opinion is forthcoming.

The order also terminates a hold on candidate filing for seats in the Legislature and for U.S. Congress. That means candidates for those seats can begin pulling nomination paperwork.

In a written statement, Mark Mugiishi, CEO of Hawaii Medical Service Association and the commission’s chairman, said that he and the commissioners are excited that elections can now move forward.

The commission “is extremely grateful that the Hawaii Supreme Court recognized that our commission followed the appropriate constitutional guidelines, laws, and carefully considered public opinion in creating a redistricting plan for 2022,” Mugiishi said.

Attorney Mateo Caballero, who represented the residents challenging the commission’s maps, couldn’t be reached for comment.

The court considered arguments from both sides at a hearing Tuesday afternoon. The residents argued that the commission failed to comply with constitutional guidelines for redistricting. State attorneys said the commission only needed to consider those guidelines, but not necessarily adhere to them.

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