Opponents of the Hawaii Superferry lost a round in court, according to an Associated Press report, when U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor refused
to block the U.S. Coast Guard from
enforcing a security zone in Kauai’s Nawiliwili Harbor when the vessel resumes service to the port.
The Coast Guard established the zone and set aside a designated protest area off Kalapaki Beach after a flotilla of protesters prevented the ferry from landing Aug. 27. A separate security zone is to extend 100 yards around the ferry.
The ferry, designed to carry more than 800 passengers and 250 cars between major Hawaiian islands, has been anchored in Honolulu Harbor since the protest, awaiting a state court ruling on whether it can resume service without an environmental assessment the state Supreme Court has ruled should have been conducted.
A court order temporarily bars the ferry from using Kahului Harbor on Maui. The ferry legally could resume service to Kauai now, but Superferry officials have said the company needs daily service to both Kauai and Maui to be economically viable, and they don’t want to sail until legal obstacles have cleared the way for full operations.
In seeking a temporary restraining order against the Kauai security zone, attorney Lanny Sinkin argued
it would deny free speech by keeping protesters out of the water when the ferry is in Kauai’s port.
Gillmor said the security zone leaves the way open for both protesters and supporters to exercise their First Amendment rights on land around the harbor.
Sinkin told Gillmor the zone was invalid because it was designed to prevent terrorism and subversive acts. Government attorneys denied the claim.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Derrick Watson said protesters have vowed to use their bodies to again try to block the Superferry and that the Coast Guard followed guidelines that allow such security zones to prevent accidents.
Sinkin said he would appeal Gillmor’s ruling to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. [Source: AP]