1978 Hawaii State Constitutional Convention

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The 1978 Hawaii State Constitutional Convention is considered the watershed political event in the modern State of Hawaii.[1] It was convened on July 5, 1978. The convention established term limits for state office holders, provided a requirement for an annual balanced budget, laid the groundwork for the return of federal land such as the island of Kahoʻolawe, and most importantly created the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in an effort to right the wrongs done towards native Hawaiians since the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi in 1893. The event also created an ambitious project of preservation of the Hawaiian culture including the adoption of Hawaiian diacritical marks for official usage, use of Hawaiian names, etc. The Hawaiian language became the official state language of Hawaii for the first time since the overthrow.[2]

Based upon language the US Supreme Court had used to legalize abortion and birth control, the convention added the text: "the right of the people to privacy is recognized and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest." This text makes the state constitution one of only five in the US that explicitly define a right to privacy.[3]

A major outgrowth of the constitutional convention was the launching of the political careers of those who would later dominate Hawaiian politics. Delegates to the convention included:


  1. ^ "1978 Constitutional Convention". The Hawaii State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  2. ^ Hofschneider, Anita (September 13, 2018). "'Fragile Aloha': Why Hawaii's Last Constitutional Convention Was Important". Civil Beat. Archived from the original on September 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Issenberg, Sasha (May 5, 2021). "The Surprising Honolulu Origins of the National Fight Over Same-Sex Marriage". Politico. Retrieved June 2, 2021.
  4. ^ Hussey, Ikaikai (March 7, 2018). "Panel to discuss 1978 Constitutional Convention and impact on 2018 vote". University of Hawaiʻi News. Retrieved August 10, 2022.

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