THIRTY-SECOND LEGISLATURE, 2023
STATE OF HAWAII
A BILL FOR AN ACT
PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE HAWAII STATE CONSTITUTION REGARDING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:
SECTION 1. The legislature finds that the United States Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), reversed long-standing campaign finance restrictions and designated corporate spending on elections as free speech protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The decision removed any limits on the amount of money that corporations, special interest groups, and political action committees (PACs) could spend on an election. The legislature further finds that the decision in Citizens United is a serious threat to our democracy. Corporations enjoy various advantages, including limited liability, perpetual life, and favorable treatment in the accumulation and distribution of assets, which allow them to amass and spend an extraordinary amount of money on political messages that often have far greater reach and influence than messages from individuals. During the thirteen years since the Citizens United decision, there has been a massive increase in political spending by corporations, special interest groups, and PACs, dramatically expanding their already outsized political influence on election outcomes and policy decisions.
The legislature also finds that the power to amend state constitutions rests with the people of each state, and the legislature believes it is critical that the State express its disapproval of the Citizens United decision. At least twenty states, including Hawaii in 2016, have taken legislative action urging Congress to pass a proposed constitutional amendment that overturns the decision in Citizens United; however, Congress has failed to take any action and appears unlikely to do so.
The legislature acknowledges that as long as Citizens United is binding law, this Act will have no effect on the Constitution of the United States. United States Supreme Court decisions can be overturned, as demonstrated by the Court's decision to override the fifty-year-old Roe v. Wade decision. Therefore, a state constitutional provision, while not binding today, may nonetheless be valuable in the future.
Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to propose an amendment to article I, section 4, of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii to provide that the expenditure of money to influence elections is not a form of speech protected under the Constitution of the State of Hawaii.
SECTION 2. Article I, section 4, of the Constitution of the State of Hawaii is amended to read as follows:
"FREEDOM OF RELIGION, SPEECH, PRESS,
ASSEMBLY AND PETITION
Section 4. 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.
SECTION 3. The question to be printed on the ballot shall be as follows:
"Shall the Constitution of the State of Hawaii be amended to state that freedom of speech protections under the Constitution of the State of Hawaii do not include the expenditure of money to influence elections, which would take effect if the United States Supreme Court overturns, Congress overrides, or an amendment to the United States Constitution invalidates the United States Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which allows unrestricted spending by corporations on elections?"
SECTION 4. New constitutional material is underscored.
SECTION 5. This amendment shall take effect on July 1, 2050.
State Constitutional Amendment; Freedom of Speech; Monetary Expenditures to Influence Elections
Proposes an amendment to the Hawaii State Constitution to provide that freedom of speech protected under the Hawaii State Constitution does not include the expenditure of money to influence elections. Effective 7/1/2050. (SD3)
The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.