HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Supreme Court has issued an order that will temporarily prevent construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.
The court said, in an order issued Tuesday afternoon, that "the permits and ruling that allow construction ... are stayed pending the court's final decision on the appeal."
The court was responding to a plea from telescope opponents who argued that the telescope company and the state were disrespecting the Hawaii Supreme Court, which heard arguments on their lawsuit only three months ago but has not yet ruled on the case.
The court issued a "stay" of the permits and state Land Board decision that allow construction to begin.
Attorney Richard Wurdeman, who represents the TMT opponents, wrote the successful emergency request, which was filed after 10 p.m Monday.
He cited news reports, including Hawaii News Nows' exclusive story Monday night about law enforcement agencies preparing for potential mass arrests on the mountain.
He argued that if construction was allowed before the court rules protesters and law enforcement personnel could be harmed during the potential face-off Wednesday, when the first work crews were planning to do maintenance at the site.
Crews haven't been able to reach the construction since April, when they were blocked by more than 750 protesters. Opponents of the project say it desecrates a sacred Native Hawaiian place.
The court invited both sides to file more arguments by next week, with the stay in place until December 2 or until the court rules again.
The emergency stay was signed by all five justices of the court, which heard arguments on the main case in August.
This is not a final ruling on the legality of the project and its permits. It's not clear when that will come.
A spokeman for the TMT said he had not yet heard from attorneys for the project.
One opponent of the project, Kealoha Pisciotta, said she was glad that the court has stepped in to avoid unnecessary conflict.
Read the petition for a stay: