October 18, 2018

Political Militancy No Way To Govern

David Trahan, executive director for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine pens an article in the September 2018 edition of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine News, called, “Political Militancy No Way to Govern.” I applaud his words and his effort. However…

The article mostly focuses on the efforts of three Maine legislators who have chosen to target the Kittery Trading Post to force them to stop selling “assault-style” weapons and to raise the age to 21 to be able to purchase what is called a “long gun.”

Of these three legislators and others nationally, Trahan writes: “For many reasons these Legislators, and others at the national level, like Maxine Waters, have stepped over a serious ethical line. As a past State Senator and Representative, I understand elected Legislators have exceptional power to change laws that could negatively impact a business or organization they don’t agree with – like Kittery Trading Post.

“When three Maine lawmakers and their followers decided to target one company, instead of introducing a policy change through legislation (a Legislator’s job) that would have rightly affected all similar Maine companies, they become “political militants”, not policy makers.”

Let’s turn the clock back just a wee bit shall we?

Last year Maine passed LD 557, a law that inequitably targets hunters and fishermen if they are caught destroying property. No other group or individuals are included in this doling out of unjustifiable increased punishment. I believe the correct terminology that represents such unlawful targeting of one group or individual over another is “unconstitutional animus.”

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine was a major promoter of this law which makes little sense when you consider the words of David Trahan against the three Maine legislators who he feels have “crossed a serious ethical line” by targeting Kittery Trading Post.

Perhaps Trahan, the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, and the Maine Legislature went further in the destruction of due process than the three Maine legislators targeting Kittery Trading Post. What the three legislators did may have crossed a perceived ethical boundary, what Maine and the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine did was, in my opinion, a direct violation of individual rights and that of due process.

Simply taking the action of “policy change” have never guaranteed that passed laws are not in violation of a person’s rights. Such is the case involving LD 557.

My call is to the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to seek to repeal LD 557, especially in view of the facts of the statement made in the article written by the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine.

Passage of and the promotion of LD 557 was nothing more than just another form of political militancy, which we have read is “no way to govern.” SAM should practice what they preach.

 

Share

Maine’s Legislature Overrides LePage’s Anti-Hunting Veto

How much clearer do you send a message to the governor than to override his veto in both houses with unanimous votes? Such was the case in Maine as the Legislature by votes of 33-0 in the Senate and 148-0 in the House overrode Governor LePage’s veto of bill LD 1816.

If you recall I recently made comments on two bills that the governor signed his veto to – LD 1816 and LD 1823.

LD 1816 was more of a discriminatory bill than anti-hunting. This issue stems from making laws to stop illegal baiting of deer for hunting purposes. The initial passage of a bill aimed at addressing this concern came last year when the Legislature passed LD 1083. In that bill, the punishment for a second offense of hunting over bait required a lifetime loss of hunting privileges. Some, like Sen. Davis, believed that punishment to be beyond the scope of the severity of the crime and wished to amend that bill to make a second-offense punish a two-year license loss. LD 1816 passed both houses but the governor vetoed it. The vote to override was unanimous.

In my comments about LePage’s veto I wrote: “Until such time as Maine can get their act together to better lay out the exact definition of “bait” and at the same time rid the conflicts between growing “crops” and hunting over those and hunting over bait placed by a hunter – as though growing a crop to hunt over is any different than dumping a bag of apples under a tree stand – I cannot agree with LePage’s veto of this bill.”

Senator Paul Davis was quoted in the Piscataquis Observer that: “The fact of the matter is, deer baiting laws only really apply to hunters who don’t have the economic means to purchase land and manage for crops that attract deer. It is perfectly legal to hunt over a crop, yet it is illegal to hunt deer over a pile of apples. This discrepancy in Maine law treats some hunters differently than others, and I don’t believe that it is fair. That’s why I feel strongly that this crime shouldn’t carry a more severe penalty than other crimes that are much worse, such as hunting game out of season or illegal night hunting.”

Now perhaps it is time for some Maine politician(s) to do the right thing and step forward to change the recent law (LD 557) passed that wrongly punishes hunters more than all others for the same crime. Unconstitutional Animus, or a serious violation of equal protection under the law, does not permit a more severe punish against one group over another. Last June (2017) I wrote: “I believe the term that might apply to such an egregious violation of due process, can be found in Supreme Court cases that involve “unconstitutional animus.” If you Google that term, you can spend hours reading about what this term is and how it affects all of us. In brief, unconstitutional animus is a violation of equal protection under the law. In this case, a hunter or fisherman is not afforded the same due process and equal protection as someone else who might commit the same crime.”

The Maine legislature has righted one wrong in bringing the punishment for hunting over bait back to something more sensible. They still need to clear up the contradictions and definitions between hunting over a crop and hunting over a bait pile.

Now if they can straighten out this ridiculous discriminatory law that targets hunters for greater punishment than all other groups, things would be better off.

Share

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

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.

Share

Maine Passes Bill That Unconstitutionally Targets Hunters and Fishermen

This is a tough one to address because I do not, in any way, shape or form, condone the destruction of anybody’s property, including “Posted” or “No Trespassing” signs.

LD 557, with amendments, has passed the Maine Legislature that, in summary, states: “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.”

There should be laws that protect a landowner from such destruction, and there probably are. Piling on to prove a point, while it might be a bit understandable, particularly to a frustrated land owner, cannot be justified by targeting a specific sector of the general public to punish that group for a law violation more than any other member of the public that is not part of the hunting and fishing community.

Even in testimony given in support of the law, a landowner states that he believes the majority of sign destruction comes from “hunters” shooting up his signs, but also admits destruction of his property, other than just signs, is being carried out by many different individuals and groups of individuals. Is it then constitutional to increase punishment on one group over others? I think not!

I’m not a lawyer but you don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that this law is not right. I am surprised that the Maine Legislature, the Governor, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and others supported this law and could not see that it violates the constitutional rights of licensed hunters and licensed fishermen.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for a dismissal of lawful punishment for the willful act of property destruction, protected by Maine law. However, in order to be justified in taking away the licences of hunters and fishermen for one year, then one must ask what is the punishment for the same kind of destruction that might be carried out by a snowmobiler, an ATVer, a hiker, a berry picker, etc.?

I believe the term that might apply to such an egregious violation of due process, can be found in Supreme Court cases that involve “unconstitutional animus.” If you Google that term, you can spend hours reading about what this term is and how it affects all of us. In brief, unconstitutional animus is a violation of equal protection under the law. In this case a hunter or fisherman, is not afforded the same due process and equal protection as someone else who might commit the same crime.

As a society we have been programmed to believe that the more draconian our laws are the more of a deterrent it is to prevent the crime in the first place. Whether that is true or not, I do not have the data to show one way or another. All drivers of automobiles that violate the law by speeding, are subject to the same set of laws and punishments. Would it be considered the right thing if hunters and fishermen were targeted for greater punishment because somebody believes them to speed more than other groups or individuals? This is what this new law allows.

This bill needs to be repealed and a different, constitutional approach taken in order to protect the rights of all people to ensure equal protection under the law, due process and to stop the obvious discrimination this law allows.

 

Share