The Hawaii Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday decades of Supreme Court precedent in a ruling that found no state constitutional right to carry a firearm.
The court’s Wednesday ruling rejected three landmark Second Amendment Supreme Court decisions — New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, McDonald v. City of Chicago and District of Columbia v. Heller — declaring that the Supreme Court “handpicks history to make its own rules.” The Hawaii Supreme Court’s decision reversed a lower court ruling that dismissed charges against Christopher Wilson for carrying a gun unregistered in the state, which Wilson argued infringed on his Second Amendment rights under the Bruen ruling.
“Conventional interpretive modalities and Hawaiʻi’s historical tradition of firearm regulation rule out an individual right to keep and bear arms under the Hawaiʻi Constitution,” the ruling stated. “In Hawaiʻi, there is no state constitutional right to carry a firearm in public.”
The court rejected the “founding era’s” understanding of the Constitution by quoting a line from the TV series The Wire, “The thing about the old days, they the old days.”
“As the world turns, it makes no sense for contemporary society to pledge allegiance to the founding era’s culture, realities, laws, and understanding of the Constitution,” the ruling states.
Carrie Severino, president of the conservative legal advocacy group JCN, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the Hawaii Supreme Court made a mistake.
“The Hawaii Supreme Court has made a mistake–narrowing a right in the U.S. Constitution–that the U.S. Supreme Court can and should correct,” she said. “The state supreme court justices are as unpersuasive on history as they are in their attempt to distinguish the Wilson case from Bruen in order to escape a ruling that, whether they like it or not, is binding on them.”
At one point, the opinion argued that the “spirit of Aloha” is in opposition to the Second Amendment.
“The spirit of Aloha clashes with a federally-mandated lifestyle that lets citizens walk around with deadly weapons during day-to-day activities,” the ruling states. “The history of the Hawaiian Islands does not include a society where armed people move about the community to possibly combat the deadly aims of others.”
“A free-wheeling right to carry guns in public degrades other constitutional rights,” it continues.
Amy Swearer, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, told the DCNF it is not unusual for lower courts to “directly criticize Supreme Court precedent as wrongly decided for one reason or another.”
“What is unusual (and highly inappropriate) is for a state court to so openly and flippantly refuse to faithfully apply binding Supreme Court precedent, simply because it disagrees with the Court’s opinion,” she told the DCNF.
“While the Supreme Court of Hawaii is free to determine—apparently through the power of the ‘Aloha Spirit’–that its own identically worded state constitution affords protection for only a collective right, it is not free to override the meaning afforded by the U.S. Supreme Court in Heller, McDonald, and Bruen to the federal constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” Swearer said. “To whatever extent the ‘Aloha Spirit’ may inform or inspire Hawaii’s interpretation of its own state constitution, it does not provide an ‘opt-out’ from the federal Bill of Rights.”
Lawyer and former federal prosecutor Bill Shipley noted the court could have added a “single sentence” after explaining their position that stated they must “nevertheless” uphold the lower court ruling to comply with the Supreme Court’s precedent.
“They could have had their diatribe for 50 pages while respected their place in the Constitutional order of things — even if they didn’t like it,” he wrote on X.”Instead, they just lit themselves on fire.”
“It is lawless in the sense that it refuses to accept the supremacy of the Supremacy Clause and the Supreme Court’s authority to declare what is federal law binding on all states — whether they agree or not,” he wrote.Republished with permission from The Daily Caller News Foundation.