Comparing Hawaii’s State Constitution to the U.S. Constitution:
A Comparative Analysis
Legislative language used to craft constitutional documents can be intentionally restrictive or open to interpretation to give governments parameters for interpreting laws to appropriately regulate society. State constitutions are generally more detailed than the U.S. Constitution. This is not to say that there are not similarities between what is contained in the state constitutions and the federal Constitution. For example, Hawaii’s constitution and the U.S. Constitution both include a preamble that lists general rights afforded to the people of Hawaii and, alternatively, the United States. Both constitutions contain articles specifying the powers of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. State constitutions tend to diverge from the federal Constitution in outlining the rights and responsibilities of local entities. Hawaii’s constitution has 18 articles compared to 7 in the U.S. Constitution. Within these articles are more detailed topics such as how the state deals with elections, taxation, local government, public health, and conservation policies. This comparative analysis will discuss the Hawaiian constitution to the U.S. Constitution in terms of the similarities and differences in their bill of rights and a comparison of their provisions for protection of privacy rights.
The U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights and the Hawaii State Constitution’s Bill of rights are similar in their approach to outlining citizen’s protected rights. Like the U.S. Bill of Rights, Hawaiians are specifically guaranteed freedom of religion, speech, assembly, and petition. For example, in article 1.4 of the Hawaiian Bill of Rights, “No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This is reflective of the article three of the U.S. Bill of Rights which declares that, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” As a second point of comparison, protections are guaranteed for due process for citizens accused of crimes in both bills of rights. For example, Hawaiians are protected against discrimination and are promised equal protection under the law. In article 1.5 of the Hawaii Bill of Rights it states, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of the person's civil rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of race, religion, sex...