Sunday, December 06, 2015

Hawaii Supreme Court Requires New Hearing For Proposed Telescope On Sacred Land

In Mauna Kea Anaina Hou v. Board of Land and Natural Resources, (HI Sup. Ct., Dec. 2, 2015), the Hawaii Supreme Court vacated on due process grounds a decision by the state's Board of Land and Natural Resources that allowed the University of Hawaii to construct a 30 meter telescope on land sacred to Native Hawaiians.  At issue was a "next generation" large telescope to be built on Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano on the island of Hawaii.  The court held that the Board acted improperly in approving the permit for the telescope, with construction merely delayed until a contested hearing on objections was held.  The majority held that the due process clause of the Hawaii constitution was violated when a contested hearing was not held prior to a decision on granting the permit. A concurring opinion by Justice Pollack, joined by Justice Wilson and joined in part by Justice McKenna, held that the Board's action violated other provisions of the state's constitution as well, including Ar. XII, Sec. 7 that protects cultural and religious rights of descendants of Native Hawaiians.  Christian Science Monitor reports on the decision.