Update: The Island’s smallest town could be headed for the biggest legal stage.
In a meeting Thursday afternoon, the board of selectmen authorized town counsel Ronald Rappaport to “pursue all appellate avenues of relief including pursuing taking the case to the Supreme Court,” town administrator Adam Wilson wrote in an email.
The vote was 2-0 with Juli Vanderhoop and Gary Haley in attendance. Selectman Jim Newman participated in Thursday’s executive session discussion via video conferencing, but did not vote on the decision to move forward.
Facing long odds, the town of Aquinnah and a community group this week officially decided to fight to overturn an appellate court’s ruling that a gambling hall can be located on tribal land at the Island’s western edge.
Aquinnah selectmen discussed legal strategy Thursday afternoon before formally voting to “pursue all appellate avenues of relief, including . . . taking the case to the Supreme Court,” said town administrator Adam Wilson, after the five-minute closed session at town hall.
Selectmen Juli Vanderhoop and Gary Haley endorsed the move, after a discussion with Mr. Wilson and town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport. Selectman Jim Newman, who was out of the country, expressed his support via FaceTime before the meeting began, but did not participate in the official vote.
The town, the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association (AGHCA) and likely the state will be appealing an April 10 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit in Boston.
Town administrator Adam Wilson meets with selectmen Juli Vanderhoop and Gary Haley before Thursday’s executive session. The board voted to research all aspects of appeal. —George Brennan
Aquinnah selectmen voted Thursday to pursue possible appeals of a federal court ruling that paves the way for a gambling facility operated by the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).
At a hastily called meeting at Aquinnah Town Hall, selectmen Juli Vanderhoop and Gary Haley met for 30 minutes behind closed doors with the town’s attorney Ronald Rappaport. A third board member, Jim Newman, was away and unable to attend Thursday’s meeting.
Vanderhoop and Haley emerged making no comment, but town administrator Adam Wilson announced the two members had voted during the executive session.
“There was a motion to move forward and research every aspect of appeal,” Wilson said. The vote gives Rappaport the authority to consult with other parties to the suit, including Attorney General Maura Healey’s office and attorneys for the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association.
In a stunning reversal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit has overturned a decision by a federal judge in the casino case involving the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) — solidly backing the tribe’s right to operate a gambling facility on protected tribal lands.
The 23-page ruling issued Monday roundly rejected arguments by the town of Aquinnah and the commonwealth on appeal, siding with the tribe on critical points. The decision by the three-judge panel was unanimous.
The pivotal issues were whether the tribe qualified for gaming under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and, if so, whether IGRA trumped an earlier Settlement Act for the Aquinnah tribe and endorsed by Congress.
U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor 4th had ruled for the town and the state in late 2015, finding that the tribe does not have the right to conduct Class II gambling (electronic bingo). The appeals court panel reversed Judge Saylor’s findings and remanded the case back to the district court for entry of judgment in favor of the tribe.
A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), paving the way for the tribe to open a bingo hall in a building that had been set aside as a community center.
The three-judge panel has remanded the case to U.S. District Court in Boston, which had previously ruled against the tribe’s rights under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, the tribe’s chairwoman, applauded the court ruling.
“We are simply thrilled with the First Circuit Appellate Court’s decision,” she wrote. “The decision is exactly on point and supports the Tribe’s legal position. Hopefully this decision will help people better understand the responsibilities, rights and privileges of our Tribe.
On Martha’s Vineyard we prefer to fight in the winter — it is our off-season sport — and at this point the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival is a coming attraction. Before a plan was displayed or a permit application filed, last week a hue and cry rose up across the West Tisbury Facebook landscape over a broad proposal by Film Festival leaders to purchase a 12-acre property off Old County Road and build a campus.
Islanders like their controversies in crystallized form. If personalities are in play, all the better. But even as our focus turns to summer, and more easily digested storylines, a looming court case that hinges on complex legal issues, and which has significant consequences for the character of the entire Island, has attracted scant attention. That is unfortunate.
On Friday, a team of lawyers in the Department of Justice filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in support of the view that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) “implicitly repealed” the Settlement Act that has been the bedrock upon which the longstanding legal relationship between the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and the rest of the Martha’s Vineyard community has stood.
The suit was brought by the town of Aquinnah, the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to stop the Wampanoag Gaming Corporation from building a Class II casino — think flashing high-stakes bingo parlor — in Aquinnah.
The Justice Department’s letter raises the stakes. Although the feds are not a party to the suit, their interest in the case will carry weight. And unlike the town and the Commonwealth, theAquinnah/Gay Head Community Association, which has stood tall where others might shrink away, cannot dig into tax coffers to pay
Continue reading This fight is for real – Editorial, MV Times…