November 1995 Home   Newsletters

December 1995

January 1996

Viewpoint (Astrid Monson)
Honolulu League Endorses LWVUS's Focus on Initiative
But for the Grace of God (Astrid Monson)
Council Member Felix Speaks on East Honolulu Settlement
Con Con Panel Discussion
Court Monitors Needed

Con Con Panel Discussion

The panel discussion by three distinguished scholars of the Hawaii State Constitution on the pros and cons of having a 1998 Constitutional Convention was a resounding success, as indicated b the reactions of Leaguers who attended the December 9 membership meeting held at the Waioli Tea Room.

"It was stimulating discussion", and "I learned a lot", were some of the comments heard after the meeting.

Dr. Norman Meller, professor emeritus, UH Manoa, talked about the various problems facing Hawaii, most of which mirrors the problems that the federal government is facing. He did emphasize that a constitutional convention will not necessarily help solve these problems. He opened up his discussion with the observation that the framers of our constitution chose to include the citizens in the determination of whether to hold a convention to review the constitution every 10 years because they did not trust the Legislature to take the initiative to propose periodic review.

Dr. Anne Lee discussed the difference between fatal flaws in a constitution and stupid provisions and contended that there are no fatal flaws in our constitution which would warrant scheduling a constitutional convention at this time. She commented on some of the reasons being offered currently to support the need for a convention, and proceeded to strike each one down with reasoned arguments. She had devised a test for evaluating reasons given in favor of a con-con which included such questions as whether the benefits outweigh the cost and whether alternative provisions were being suggested and would they be better. Professor Van Dyke began with a few arguments for and against having a convention, then proceeded to identify a long list of issues under the various articles that could be examined or re-examined. "Why has the Hawaii Supreme Court been reluctant to rule in favor of privacy claims?" "Does the Judicial Selection Commission have too much power over the reappointment of judges?" These were some of the questions he raised.

An intriguing question raised by Professor Van Dyke and also alluded to by Dr. Meller in his opening remarks was whether a constitutional convention needed to be structured in the conventional model. Does it have to meet continuously, for example. (could we be more innovative and plan one that allows for more leisurely deliberations and include study groups?) Our State constitution is an organic document still being developed, he concluded.

A spirited question and answer period followed the presentations with the panelists freely contributing their own thoughts on questions addressed to other panelists. Moderator Sylvia Levy did an excellent job of introducing the speakers with some interesting bits of information on each one and kept the discussions and questions from the audience flowing at a good clip.

Since we had a deadline of Monday morning for this article, we were not able to present a detailed account of that panel discussion.

However, such a report will be made available at the office soon.

November 1995 Home   Newsletters January 1996