SCI Helps Member Bring Case to the U.S. Supreme Court

alaskafirstforhuntersThe U.S. Supreme Court has decided to accept for review the petition of SCI member John Sturgeon in his challenge against the National Park Service’s regulation of activities on waters running through National Preserves in Alaska.  SCI filed a brief in support of Sturgeon’s efforts to persuade the country’s highest court to consider the case. Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the matter, SCI is determining whether to file a second brief that would explain to the Court why it should rule in Sturgeon’s favor.

The case began when NPS personnel prohibited Sturgeon from operating his hovercraft on waters running through the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in Alaska. The NPS asserted authority over those waters despite the opposition of Sturgeon and the State of Alaska. Sturgeon sued the NPS in federal court in Alaska and the State of Alaska joined to assert its own authority. The district court ruled in favor of the NPS and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that decision.

When Sturgeon decided to petition the Supreme Court to consider his appeal, SCI filed an amicus brief in support of Sturgeon’s petition.  The State of Alaska and others also filed briefs to persuade the Supreme Court to hear the case. On October 1, 2015, the Court announced that Sturgeon’s case would be one of the few they will consider this year (the Court accepts about 80 out of 10,000 requests to hear a case).

The briefing on this important appeal is already underway. The case will determine whether the National Park Service or the State of Alaska has the authority to regulate the types of activities that can take place on waters that run through National Preserves in Alaska. The outcome of this case will likely affect hunting and access to hunting opportunities at many out-of-the-way, choice hunting locations in Alaska. The case could also potentially lead to the NPS attempting to extend its authority to activities on waters within National Preserves throughout the lower 48 states. SCI is carefully considering how best to protect its members’ opportunities to hunt and to reach hunting locations in Alaska and elsewhere.


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