August 16, 2018

Maine State Senator Davis: Lessen the Punishment for Hunting Over Bait

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It’s a beginning I guess! Maine Senator Paul Davis has introduced LD 1816, an amendment that will lessen the punishment for hunting over bait.

Earlier this year, the Legislature, after making changes to a bill that came out of committee, passed LD 1083, that would, after a second offense, make the offender ineligible, for life, to buy a hunting license. No other similar legal offenses carry such draconian measures. Sen. Davis doesn’t believe “the punishment included in the new deer baiting law fits the crime.” I completely agree.

Now, what is it going to take to get the Maine Legislature to revisit the illegal law they passed last year where they opted to punish hunters and fisherman more than any other group if they were caught destroying private property – in this case, “No Trespassing” signs.

LD 557 states that, “The hunting and fishing licenses of a person convicted of destroying, tearing down, defacing or otherwise damaging a property posting sign in violation of section 10652, subsection 1, paragraph B must be revoked, and that person is ineligible to obtain a hunting or fishing license for a period of one year from the date of conviction.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled previously in cases involving “unconstitutional animus” that you cannot punish one group over another for a similar crime. While the SCOTUS has tiptoed around cases where state’s rights and “sovereignty” are involved, under no other cases decided by the SCOTUS have they wandered very far from the ruling that regardless of whether a state thinks it has a right to make laws, they cannot inflict biases, especially social ones, against one group over another.

As one example, in U.S. Department of Agriculture vs. Moreno, Congress attempted to pass a law that would deny “hippies” Food Stamp Benefits. Members of Congress openly admitted their intent of this law was because of their refusal to accept “hippies” as part of their idealistic social existence. Regardless, SCOTUS said no. This unconstitutional animus, in essence, violated Due Process.

I applaud Sen. Davis’ desire to correct a disparate law that hinders due process while at the same time targeting hunters, but someone in Augusta needs to step up to the plate and correct LD 557 that destroys the due process allowed under the U.S. Constitution through unconstitutional animus. All licensed hunters and fishermen should be incensed that the Maine Legislature would specifically and unequally target these two social groups for punishments that are held in reserve to other preferred groups.

If the Maine Legislature corrects this problem, as they should, they must then correct LD 557.

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