Fisher v. Kealoha, No. 14-16514 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment to defendants in plaintiff's suit challenging the constitutionality of section 134-7 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, which prohibit plaintiff from owning or possessing firearms because of his 1997 state law conviction for harassment. Although plaintiff stated that he challenged only section 134-7, that statute, in relevant part, merely incorporates federal law. Therefore, plaintiff's argument focuses on the latter federal statutes. The Ninth Circuit held that, as a matter of statutory construction, the unavailability of a procedure for either expungement, set-aside, pardon, or civil rights restoration does not remove plaintiff from the ambit of 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(9)'s prohibition or, by extension, section 134-7(a)'s prohibition. In regard to plaintiff's Second Amendment challenge, the Ninth Circuit held that, under intermediate scrutiny, the statute addressed a substantial governmental interest and was tailored sufficiently to satisfy intermediate scrutiny. In this case, section 922(g)(9) was not unconstitutionally applied to plaintiff where his argument that his harassment conviction occurred many years ago, and he has not committed any other crimes since that time, was not meaningfully distinguishable from the one the court rejected in United States v. Chovan. Furthermore, plaintiff failed to avail himself of the one restoration mechanism that was available to him under Hawaii law, and he was in no position to argue that Hawaii's restoration mechanisms were constitutionally insufficient.