UpdateS: San Carlos Apache Turn to the Ninth Circuit for Relief on Confiscation and Destruction of Oak Flat Religious Site
Members of the San Carlos Apache Tribe in Arizona are turning to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a last-minute bid to stop a foreign mining company from acquiring their sacred lands from the federal government. If they lose, lands as sacred to their religion as the Temple Mount and the Vatican are to Judaism and Catholicism will be mined and transformed into a giant sinkhole.
The Apaches are asking the Ninth Circuit Court to reverse the refusal of a lower court to stop the publication of a final environmental impact statement on the mine. Such a step would give Congress and the courts time to reconsider an irreversible act that would destroy the centerpiece of these Americans’ religion.
“The Apaches have a strong case that has so far received poor consideration by the courts,” said Gene Schaerr, general counsel of Protect The First. “The First Amendment protects the Apaches’ free exercise of religion. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act prohibits the government from substantially burdening that right. This appeal should be a slam-dunk for the Ninth.”