A federal judge won’t allow the Justice Department to intervene in a case challenging Hawaii’s 14-day mandatory quarantine for people traveling to Hawaii.

Hawaii U.S. District Court Judge Jill Otake ruled late Wednesday that the court will disregard a “statement of interest” from U.S. attorneys who, along with several Hawaii homeowners, sought an end to the quarantine.

Otake wrote that the DOJ’s statement must be disregarded because it sought to expand the scope of the suit brought by plaintiffs in the case, who argue that they are being discriminated against because of the quarantine.

District Court Aha Kanawai Place of Law Judge Jill Otake courtroom.
U.S. District Court Judge Jill Otake will disregard a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice that supports a lawsuit seeking to end Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“When the United States has filed statements of interest in COVID-related cases, none sought to expand the scope of relief requested by the plaintiffs,” Otake wrote. “The court is unaware of any (nor has the United States pointed to any) that are analogous to the circumstances here.”

The Attorney General’s office called the movement in the case, as well as the dismissal of another challenge to Gov. David Ige’s orders, “positive developments.”

“The Governor’s Emergency Proclamations were properly and lawfully issued and have been critical to protecting Hawaii from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Krishna Jayaram, special assistant to the AG, said in a written statement. “The Department of the Attorney General will continue to whole-heartedly defend them.”

The AG’s office on Thursday filed a response to the plaintiff’s request for a restraining order against Ige, which if successful would exempt them from quarantine rules.

Deputy attorneys general Nicholas McLean, Ewan Rayner, William Levins and Craig Iha argue, among other things, that the quarantine has been effective in containing coronavirus, and that the governor’s emergency rules are not discriminatory because they apply to everyone in the state.

The state attorneys write that striking down the quarantine rules “would increase the potential for COVID-19 transmission and create catastrophic risk to public health.”

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