Appeals court to take up Apache Stronghold case on Oak Flat copper mine
A few months ago, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a group of San Carlos Apaches in their fight against a copper mine in the Oak Flat area of Tonto National Forest.
But the court may take up the case again.
In June, a panel of three 9th U.S. Circuit judges ruled 2-1 against the Apaches, who say the mine will destroy a sacred site.
But the court, in a rare move, will consider a rehearing of the case in front of a full, 11-judge panel.
The court heard arguments from both sides this week.
Luke Goodrich of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit that represents the tribe, said that tribe's legal position is unique.
“Western Apaches have centered their religious practices at Oak Flat since before European contact, hundreds of years. It’s a site of core religious practices that can’t be relocated elsewhere,” Goodrich said.
The mine would be located about 60 miles east of Phoenix.