December 12, 2018

When Lawyers Write Hunting/Fishing Constitutional Amendments

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Here we go again. Texas is attempting to be the 19th state to pass a constitutional amendment they think will protect their right to hunt and fish and harvest game. But, will it?

Proposition 6 reads:

“The people have the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, including by the use of traditional methods, subject to laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife and preserve the future of hunting and fishing. Hunting and fishing are preferred methods of managing and controlling wildlife. This section does not affect any provision of law relating to trespass, property rights, or eminent domain. This section does not affect the power of the legislature to authorize a municipality to regulate the discharge of a weapon in a populated area in the interest of public safety.”

To be up front, for whatever it is worth and for whatever one might think it would accomplish, I am in support of constitutional amendments aimed at protecting a man’s right to harvest game. However, of all the amendments I have seen and read, I fail to see how the words crafted in these amendments actually fully protect the right to hunt, fish, trap and fill one’s freezer, or supplement their income.

Why can’t legal documents be worded straight forward, clear, and precise, so that everyone can understand it and lawyers can’t make gobs of money “interpreting” it and challenging it in court? I know the answer. Do you?

Let’s look at Proposition 6. “including by the use of traditional methods”. Please explain. I recall an argument in Maine over this issue. Some were asking for the protection of the “traditional method” of being able to hunt from an ATV, while others understood walking through the woods with a deer rifle to be “traditional.” Who gets to decide what a “traditional method” is? Don’t tell me. Lawyers do. Ka-ching, Ka-ching.

Next: “subject to laws…to conserve and manage wildlife….AND” Here we have a bunch of gobbledy-gook that means nothing but does provide a whole bunch of gray area in which lawyers can thrive and profit. Subject to laws: Well, we are always subject to laws. As we approach a totalitarian socialist state, don’t look for being subject to laws to change anytime soon. Let’s look at “to conserve and manage wildlife.” That has meaning toward every end of the spectrum. To make my point, can I ask if it is “conserving” and “managing” wildlife to manipulate game populations to such levels as “laws we are subject to” need to be written that bans hunting to protect, preserve, “conserve and manage” game?

I inserted the “AND” above for a reason. We need to take the entire sentence as it is written in order to better understand it: “subject to the laws or regulations to conserve and manage wildlife AND preserve the future of hunting and fishing.” Does this mean that the “conserve and manage” wildlife is required by the amendment in such a way as to “preserve” hunting and fishing, i.e. is there a guarantee here or a mandate that wildlife managers will “conserve and manage” wildlife for the purpose of surplus harvest? I don’t see it. What I believe it says is that laws can be written at anytime that the legislature deems it in the best interest to “conserve and manage” wildlife, rendering this not a very effective constitutional amendment. In addition, it leaves wide open the need for lawyers and courts to “interpret” what this means. Ka-ching, Ka-ching.

The only way that any amendment can guarantee the right to hunt and fish is if that same amendment mandates the management of wildlife in surplus for the express purpose of taking fish and game.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has taken over 200 years for a Supreme Court to rule that this right is for an individual. I have always thought that amendment pretty straight forward. Imagine if the Second Amendment had read, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed, subject to the laws and rules to conserve and manage arms, and preserve the future of gun ownership.”

While amendments like Proposition 6 may slow down or discourage some environmentalists from efforts to end hunting and fishing, why is it that with all the effort that goes into a constitutional amendment, it can’t be written exactly for the purpose intended?

Lawyers! Phhhft!

Here’s my version of an amendment:

The people living in this state have a right to hunt, fish and trap. The state will provide managers for the purpose of perpetuating game in surplus amounts for the people to harvest.

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