On May 15, 2012, four women represented by the ACLU filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii against state officials in Hawaii's Department of Public Safety under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for interference with their 14th Amendment right to marry. The four women's fiancés were ...
read more >
On May 15, 2012, four women represented by the ACLU filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii against state officials in Hawaii's Department of Public Safety under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for interference with their 14th Amendment right to marry. The four women's fiancés were prisoners in Hawaii's custody (though some were in Arizona prisons) and were required to complete an application to have their marriage approved. The women alleged that this burden on their right to marry was imposed without a legitimate state interest. The ACLU, which had previously intervened on behalf of an unrelated prisoner who had been denied marriage approval because of his status, had been given assurances that a new policy would be promulgated and followed to prevent unconstitutional denials of marriage. The women alleged that the various officials continued even under the new policy to deny marriage on the basis of prisoner status. Plaintiffs sought monetary, declarative and injunctive relief, including damages and attorneys' fees.
On May 29, 2012, Plaintiffs filed an amended motion for a preliminary injunction and an amended complaint that dropped one of the women from the case. On June 5, 2012, Defendants filed motions to dismiss Plaintiffs' claims for lack of jurisdiction and failure to join a required party, claiming that the women could not sue to advance the prisoners' marriage interests and that the prisoners should have been joined in the suit. On July 5, 2012, the parties stipulated to dismiss a second plaintiff from the case. The parties then stipulated to various facts on July 9, 2012.
On July 19, 2012, the district court (Judge Susan Oki Mollway) denied the state's motion to dismiss, ruling that Plaintiffs had standing because they were seeking redress for infringement of their own rights to marry and that the prisoners were not required parties. On August 2, 2012, the court granted Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, requiring the state to allow Plaintiffs to marry their fiancés without further interference and without reapplication. 2012 WL 3202222.
On May 28, 2013, the district court approved the parties' stipulation for dismissal with prejudice. Because of the preliminary injunction, the remaining plaintiffs had married their fiancés. The parties came to a settlement that included damages, attorneys' fees, and a mild policy change. Under the settlement, Defendants were to pay $86,871.21 ($25,000 to both plaintiffs, $35,000 in fees to the ACLU, and $1871.21 in costs to the ACLU); the new marriage policy was to be included in marriage application materials; and the Director of Public Safety was to issue an internal memorandum instructing officials to presume marriage applications should be approved unless they violate the policy. The case is closed.Kenneth Gray - 07/09/2013