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The Supreme Court is the Court of Last Resort
An attorney writes in praise of a recent Connections: Mauna Kea commentary that spoke to the role the high court plays in all our lives.

About the Author

  • Sean Gallagher
    A United States Marine Corps combat veteran, former Jesuit seminarian and public defender for 22 years, he is now a beach lifeguard on the Big Island.

I used to be a public defender, but now I am a lifeguard with the Hawaii Fire Department on the Big Island.

At first I read the Sept. 3 article (Justice in the Air: TMT at the Supreme Court) by professor Williamson B.C. Chang with a modicum of interest, partly because I work with so many Native Hawaiians and I know this issue is important to them. What an eye opener it turned out to be — every sentence parsed to pack a punch in short paragraphs.

Plaintiffs and supporters in front row during Hawaii State Supreme Court oral arguments. 27 aug 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Plaintiffs and supporters in front row during Supreme Court of Hawaii oral arguments on the Thirty Meter Telescope project.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The professor was right. Not only was the article meant to shed light on the shabby, sad state of affairs on Mauna Kea itself, but to showcase the important position that the Hawaii Supreme Court — and also any supreme court — plays in our everyday lives. It is meant to be beholden to none except the concept of “justice,” which doesn’t mean “just us” government agencies. Every Supreme Court serves this purpose.

So it was so refreshing to hear professor Chang’s description of the communal relationship between the people in the court room and their Supreme Court whose job it is to rein in big government when it is needed. If there was ever a time that government needed to be reined in and reminded that it serves the people it is now.

Kudos to professor Chang and his insights. The article spoke to me both as a lawyer and as a citizen of one of the greatest states in the Union.