Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Hawaii Public Site Ban Law 

MercuryNews.com reports that the ACLU has filed suit against the State of Hawaii on behalf of Carlos Hernandez, a library patron who was using a library computer to view GayHawaii.com, a website which provides travel, tourist and business information for people living in or visiting Hawaii. A security guard issued Hernandez a written "warning" that he was to leave the building and would be banned for one year. In response to an inquiry by a local gay rights group, a library official said that the guard took the action because there were photographs of shirtless men on the site, and that while she didn't agree with the action there is nothing she can do to change it.

The law was apparently intended to keep squatters from public sites such as campgrounds and beaches. The ACLU argues that because there are no guidelines for use of the statute, nor any avenue for appeals, it is open for abuse. Hawaii's Attorney General contends that:
the ACLU's lawsuit is based on the flawed premise that authorities would abuse the law. "Just because a statute is capable of being abused, doesn't mean that the statute is unconstitutional," Bennett said.

It sounds like the present case is proof of just such abuse.

The ACLU site has a more detailed description of the suit and the legal arguments behind it. The statute in question is Act 50, which was enacted earlier this year.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 6:40 AM