All 9 Federal Judges Drop out of Hawaii Rail Project Case

Sunday, May 22, 2011
A legal challenge to Honolulu, Hawaii’s railway proposal has had a tough time getting a judge, due to the fact that all nine federal justices on the island recused themselves from hearing the case.
The High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project would build 20 miles of elevated steel rails on a concrete viaduct standing three to four stories in height, so that residents could travel from Honolulu’s historic and business districts to the growing suburban area of west Oahu known as Kapolei.
A group of concerned citizens and former state legislators sued to stop the project, arguing that the city and the county, the Federal Transit Administration and the Department of Transportation exceeded their jurisdiction and violated environmental policy by failing to consider alternative technology for the transit plan.
The nine judges in Hawaii recused themselves from hearing the lawsuit because the new railway would pass by the federal courthouse. They contend that the developers failed to consult with the court’s security representatives and that the courthouse could face increased vulnerability to terrorism if the railway is built.
Opponents say the viaduct would obstruct scenic views at the Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Federal Building and U.S. District Courthouse.
With none of the local judges available, Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the mainland has agreed to step in and preside over the legal challenge.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Hawaii Judges Cannot Be Impartial About Rail Project (by Purna Nemani, Courthouse News Service)


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