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Kaahumanu v. Hawaii

ELR Citation: 42 ELR 20118
Nos. No. 10-15645, (9th Cir., 06/06/2012)

The Ninth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of Hawaii's regulation of commercial weddings on the state's unencumbered beaches in all respects but one. A pastor and wedding planning companies filed suit against the state's Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) alleging that its permit requirements unduly burden their right to organize and participate in weddings on unencumbered state beaches in violation of the First Amendment, equal protection, and due process. But none of the provisions violate equal protection or due process rights. And the only provisions that violate the First Amendment are those that give to the DLNR Chairperson the authority to revoke an already issued permit at anytime and for any reason in his or her sole and absolute discretion, and those that give to the DLNR the authority to add terms and conditions to an already issued permit such as it deems necessary or appropriate. This discretionary power is inconsistent with the First Amendment. So, while the agency's power to grant permits is sufficiently constrained, the discretion DLNR has reserved to revoke a permit and add to its terms and conditions is not.