Hawaii Democratic Party Loses Primary Election Lawsuit

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Voters wait in line at Holy Trinity to vote on election day

By – On November 14, U.S. District Court Judge J. Michael Seabright ruled against the Hawaii Democratic Party, in Democratic Party of Hawaii v Nago. This is the case in which the Hawaii Democratic Party sued to obtain a closed primary for itself.

The decision says that the Democratic Party might win a future lawsuit, but that such future lawsuit would need to provide evidence that the open primary harms the Democratic Party.


The Hawaii Democratic Party had argued that an open primary is facially unconstitutional, which means that it is always unconstitutional, as applied to any party. The decision points out that some Hawaii political parties might want to keep an open primary. The decision is 36 pages.

The decision also points out that when California’s blanket primary was held unconstitutional, and when Idaho’s open primary was held unconstitutional as to the Republican Party, those cases were as applied challenges, and they depended on evidence that the parties who filed the lawsuits were being harmed.

The decision says, on page 31, “This court cannot consider the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s challenge without analyzing proof of a burden.”

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