Hawaii Constitution

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Hawaii Constitution
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The Hawaii Constitution is the governing document of the state government of Hawaii and is supplemented with the Civil and the Penal Codes. The constitution includes a preamble and 18 articles, including revision notes and an index.[1]


Though Hawaii follows the statehood model of the U.S. government, its constitutional government is reminiscent of the constitutional monarchy of the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1840. The government structure is decided by the state constitution, which divides the government into three branches: the executive, legislative and judiciary.[2]


See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble to the Hawaiian constitution states:

We, the people of Hawaii, grateful for Divine Guidance, and mindful of our Hawaiian heritage and uniqueness as an island State, dedicate our efforts to fulfill the philosophy decreed by the Hawaii State motto, "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono."

We reserve the right to control our destiny, to nurture the integrity of our people and culture, and to preserve the quality of life that we desire.

We reaffirm our belief in a government of the people, by the people and for the people, and with an understanding and compassionate heart toward all the peoples of the earth, do hereby ordain and establish this constitution for the State of Hawaii.[1]

Article I

Article I of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Bill of Rights." It has 25 sections which prescribe the rights and liberties of citizens of Hawaii.

Article II

Article II of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Suffrage and Elections." It has 10 sections.

Article III

Article III of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "The Legislature." It has 19 sections.

Article IV

Article IV of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Reapportionment." It has 10 sections.

Article V

Article V of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "The Executive." It has six sections.

Article VI

Article VI of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "The Judiciary." It has seven sections.

Article VII

Article VII of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Taxation and Finance." It has 13 sections.

Article VIII

Article VIII of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Local Government." It has six sections.

Article IX

Article IX of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Public Health and Welfare." It has 10 sections.

Article X

Article X of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Education" and consists of six sections.

Article XI

Article XI of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Conservation, Control and Development of Resources" and consists of 11 sections.

Article XII

Article XII of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Hawaiian Affairs" and consists of seven sections.

Article XIII

Article XIII of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Organization; Collective Bargaining" and consists of two sections.

Article XIV

Article XIV of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Code of Ethics."

Article XV

Article XV of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "State Boundaries; Capital; Flag; Language and Motto" and consists of five sections.

Article XVI

Article XVI of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "General and Miscellaneous Provisions." It contains sections 1-16, including sections 3.5 for a total of 17 sections.

Article XVII

Article XVII of the Hawaii Constitution is labeled "Revision and Amendment." It includes five sections that establish the ways in which the constitution can be amended and revised over time.

Article XVIII

Article XVIII of the Hawaii Constitution is entitled "Schedule" and contains 11 sections.

Amending the Constitution

Main article: Amending state constitutions

According to Article XVII of the Hawaii Constitution, there are two methods by which the state's constitution can be revised or amended: the constitutional convention or the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

The Hawaii State Legislature can propose a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment under these conditions:

  • Through a two-thirds vote in both the Hawaii State Senate and the Hawaii House of Representatives, held in one legislative session.
  • Through a simple majority vote in both chambers, held in two successive sessions of the legislature.
  • Any such proposed amendments must then be placed on a statewide ballot, where they can be approved under these conditions:
If approved by a majority of all the votes tallied upon the question if this majority constitutes at least 50 percent of the total vote cast at the election, or,
If approved at a special election by a majority of all the votes tallied upon the question, if this majority consists of at least 30 percent of the total number of registered voters in the state at that time.

A constitutional convention can be held under these conditions:

  • If the Hawaii State Legislature puts the question, "Shall there be a convention to propose a revision of or amendments to the Constitution?" on the ballot.
  • If the legislature does not act to place such a question on the ballot, the question shall go on the ballot as an automatic ballot referral every ten years.

Revision of 1978

A constitutional convention was held in Hawaii in 1978. The delegates to that convention recommended a number of amendments to the state's voters and on November 7, 1978 those amendments were voted on in a statewide election.

According to a computer report kept by the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, all the proposed amendments were approved. However, in the case of Kahalekai v. Doi, the Hawaii Supreme Court in 1979 declared that many of the amendments had not in fact been validly ratified.

These invalid amendments were then removed from the constitution and explanatory notes were provided in the official text of the constitution explaining the situation.

This deletion was done under the authority of Resolution No. 29 of the 1978 Constitutional Convention, which authorized the constitutional revisor "to effect such necessary rearrangement, renumbering and technical changes of the sections within the articles of the State Constitution, as may be affected, for proper form and arrangement and proper order in the State Constitution in the event that any or some of the amendments to the State Constitution proposed by the Constitutional Convention of Hawaii of 1978 are not ratified by the electorate."[3]


The constitution was originally framed during a constitutional convention authorized under Act 334 of the 1949 Session Laws of Hawaii. This constitution was adopted in a statewide vote of the people, the Hawaii Constitution Ratification Vote, held on November 7, 1950.

An Act of the U.S. Congress dated March 18, 1959 (73 Stat 4, Public Law 86-3) to accept Hawaii as a state suggested that the constitution as adopted in 1950 be amended in three ways. Accordingly, three ballot propositions were submitted to Hawaii's voters on June 27, 1959. These three amendments to the 1950 constitution were approved and the new state constitution, as amended, was accepted by the U.S. Congress in the Act of March 18, 1959. The new Hawaii Constitution went into effect on August 21, 1959, when the president issued a proclamation admitting Hawaii into the Union.

Prior to becoming a U.S. state, Hawaii had numerous constitutions throughout the years: for the Kingdom of Hawaii, Republic of Hawaii, Territory of Hawaii and State of Hawaii. The first constitution was drafted by Kamehameha III. Some constitutions have become historically infamous while others have improved the state. For example, the Bayonet Constitution of 1887 stripped native Hawaiians of their rights in favor of American plantation owners, and the constitution of 1893 was never officially promulgated but instead helped businessmen to accelerate their plans for the overthrow of the monarchy. On the other hand, the 1978 Hawaiian Constitution created the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and declared the Hawaiian language to be one of the official languages of the state.[4]

List of Hawaiian constitutions and constitutional conventions

In 1978, the state of Hawaii convened its third constitutional convention since 1950. Though Hawaii is a young state in comparison to other U.S. states, Hawaii has had numerous state constitutions.
Below is a list of Hawaii's constitutional history.[5]

  • Kingdom of Hawaii
  • Republic of Hawaii
    • Constitution of 1894 on July 4, 1894
  • Territory of Hawaii
    • Organic Act of 1990 on June 14, 1900
  • State of Hawaii
    • Constitution of 1950 on August 21, 159 (statehood)
    • Constitution of 1968 on November 5, 1968

See also

StateConstitutions Ballotpedia.jpg

External links

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