Protesters take case to W.Va. Supreme Court

March 2, 2010 by Ken Ward Jr.

Climate Ground Zero activists announced today that they are appealing to the state Supreme Court to challenge a circuit court order blocking further protests against Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal operations.

Lawyers for the protesters are filing a petition for appeal and hoping the Court agrees to hear the case. I’ve posted a copy of their petition here. It alleges that the previous rulings by Raleigh Circuit Judge Robert Burnside were overly broad and contrary to established law.

Remember that Massey just last week also obtained a preliminary injunction against the protesters from U.S. District Judge Irene Berger.

10 Responses to “Protesters take case to W.Va. Supreme Court”

  1. concerned miner says:

    Wow, what a great use of of court system…Climate Ground Zero wants the supreme court to tell them it is OK to trespass on private property and chain themselves to equipment or office furniture. I’m sure you guys will tell me what is right about this, but I just don’t get it!

  2. Robert E. Oak says:

    concerned miner: will telling you that the enforcement wing or our system of government should be protecting the rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and serving the heath and safety of all US citizens rather than a small but powerful corporate shareholder bunch who seek to turn everything – including you – into an object for profit, help you out of your quandry? hope so… for the sake of your children and grandchildren if not that of yourself.

  3. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    concerned miner and Robert E. Oak,

    Both of you, please tone it down and make your comments less personal in nature …

    concerned miner — No need to direct comments to others by saying “you guys” and ending with “I just don’t get it!”

    Robert E. Oak — your directing comments to “for the sake of your children and grandchildren” at other reader is unnecessarily personal.

    Please, everyone, feel free to disagree with other readers, but do not make comments so personal and needlessly inflammatory. Disagree, but do not be disagreeable.


  4. concerned miner says:

    If I understand you correctly, if you feel strongly enough about something (even though you are in the minority) it is OK to disregard laws.

  5. Ken Ward Jr. says:

    concerned miner,

    First, I’m not so sure that folks who are opposed to mountaintop removal are in the minority. Public opinion polls suggest otherwise … a majority of Americans and a majority of West Virginians have opposed in the practice in most of the polls I’ve seen.

    Second, though, I think you have it at least partly right. The whole idea behind civil disobedience is that if something is unjust, some folks who feel strongly enough about it will break the law — in a peaceful manner — to try to stop it. I’m not saying I would do that, but as I’ve explained before on this blog, this is not a new thing for the Appalachian coalfields:

    Folks are free to say they don’t like the tactic. But it’s not something new in America (think sit-ins at lunch counters in the South during the Civil Rights movement), and it is an well-established manner of protesting things one is opposed to.


  6. Guinstigator says:

    Concerned Miner – I understand how you might see it that way, that we feel we can break laws. But I see it differently. If you look at Massey’s record, they have an incredible amount of violations. And that is without even looking at how they violate the Clean Air and Clean Water acts. It’s sort of like the necessity defense. If youo are passing a house that is on fire, and there are no trespassing signs posted everywhere, and you hear a child screaming in the house, do you decide that you cannot save the child because you would be breaking a law? Or do you decide you are upholding a higher law by trespassing to save the child. Most of us feel we are upholding a higher law or morality when we do trespass. We do tend to think these things out, and not just do these actions because they are fun. And, believe me, jail is not fun.

    I hope that this may give you some more understanding of what we are doing.

  7. Watcher says:

    I have to wonder where responsibility lies for the safety of these activists. Who is liable should something happen? I know if you are a vendor, and travel on coal co property, you must carry a very large insurance policy over and above your average buisness & auto policies.

  8. Monty says:

    I’m still a bit mystified as to how Massey managed to get this into federal court in the first place – I mean, I have read the articles, but still … what is going on here does not seem to rise to the level needed to warrant federal intervention. Much like trying to kill a gnat with a 12-gauge, but then, King Coal is seldom subtle.

  9. Reality Check says:

    Massey Energy should by no means be considered a “law abiding” company like I have seen on many of these boards. In 2008 the company agreed to pay $20 million to settle the potential $2.4 billion in fines for the thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act for routinely polluting the waterways in Kentucky and West Virginia. A mere slap on the wrist and a simple cost of doing business. Some see an imbalance in a power structure such as this and feel justified in breaking laws that appear to protect the corporations rather than the environment.

  10. Guinstigator says:

    Watcher – Responsibility for getting hurt rests solely with those of us who commit to doing actions. That is, unless a Massey employee or someone else decides to do an activist bodily harm. We train the protesters in non-violence, so that none of our people will attempt to harm anyone.

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