Lockdowns, testing and tracking: Are they all really legal?

Two constitutional attorneys who have been monitoring Hawaii’s coronavirus lockdown measures of the past three months were featured guests at a webinar sponsored by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Jeffrey Portnoy and Robert Thomas talked about what we can expect as the state and counties slowly lift their seemingly endless stay-at-home orders, which have discriminated between “essential” and “nonessential” workers, mandated “social distancing” and mask-wearing, and imposed 14-day quarantines on arriving airport passengers, both tourists and residents returning home.

During the hourlong event, Portnoy and Thomas considered whether businesses destroyed or devastated by the lockdowns have any legal recourse, and whether proposals being suggested to revive Hawaii’s devastated tourism industry, such as replacing the 14-day quarantines with various forms of testing and tracking, might violate constitutional privacy protections.

Portnoy is a partner with the firm Cades Schutte and specializes in First Amendment issues. Thomas is a director with the law firm Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert and an expert in eminent domain and government takings.

After giving short presentations, Portnoy and Thomas conversed briefly with Keli‘i Akina, institute president, then answered questions fielded from the audience by Joe Kent, institute executive vice president.

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