Hunting News

Federal Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Opposing Pennsylvania’s Sunday Hunting Ban

The latest legal  attempt to overturn the Sunday hunting ban in Pennsylvania failed after a judge threw out the suit.

The latest legal attempt to overturn the Sunday hunting ban in Pennsylvania failed after a judge threw out the suit.

On Wednesday, US District Judge Yvette Kane tossed out a lawsuit that challenged Pennsylvania’s long-standing Sunday hunting ban. According to pennlive.com, Kane made the ruling roughly one year after Hunters United for Sunday Hunting (HUSH) filed the lawsuit against the state Game Commission. HUSH argued that the ban on Sunday hunting not only deprived hunters of valuable weekend hunting opportunities, but also infringed upon their religious beliefs and constitutional rights. The Game Commission contended that hunting was not a constitutional right at all, and Kane sided with the agency earlier this week.

Pennsylvania is one of 10 states where hunting on Sundays is still illegal. Most of these bans are left over from religious “blue laws” first established in the early 1800s, which prevent certain businesses and activities from being conducted on Sunday. Many of these laws have already been abolished yet hunters are still struggling to repeal Sunday bans in Massachusetts, West Virginia, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Delaware.

Just earlier this year, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed legislation that would end the Sunday hunting ban in his own state. Pennsylvania lawmakers’ last attempt to repeal the law was in 2011 after the Game Commission itself voted 4-3 to end the ban. According to the Associated Press, widespread opposition from the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and outdoor recreation groups shut down that bill.

Many of those who opposed the 2011 bill commended Kane on her decision. Some landowners say they are concerned that incidents of trespassing may increase with the end of the ban while hikers and campers say that they need one day a week without the disruption of gunshots.

Kane wrote in her 16-page decision that HUSH failed to prove that the ban either violated hunters’ religious beliefs or coerced them to participate in any state religion. The federal judge also ruled that there was no basis for hunting as a protected constitutional right.

For now, it seems that Pennsylvania’s Sunday hunting ban will remain intact. Hunters will still be able to harvest nuisance animals such as feral pigs and coyotes on Sundays, as well as foxes and crows.

Image from Torrey Wiley on the flickr Creative Commons

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of OutdoorHub. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
  • Chris

    So……Sunday hunting would “increase trespassing”. Shooting is still permitted but I assume will not disturb “hikers and campers” that don’t want ” disruption from gunshots”. How does one “harvest nuisance animals” without hunting them ? And, if you are hunting them, how do you prove that to a warden in the field ? Not being judgmental …………. But REALLY ? If it’s not a rights or religion issue, then why not chose Wednesday ?

  • Andrew

    Is There an Environmentally Extreme Agenda Behind H.U.S.H?

    HUSH SUNDAY HUNTING LAWSUIT ALL ABOUT KILLING MORE DEER?

    Exactly who is HUSH (short for Hunters United for Sunday Hunting). That is the question everyone is asking. That is what we have explored and the results are not quite fitting in with hushes claims that this is all about the future of hunting, constitutionality etc. Many believe they are just politically driven environmentalists as opposed to the “hunter advocates” they would like legislators and others to believe.

    Lets take an in depth look at the 4 people who make up HUSH and their motives for doing so.

    First, we start with Kathy Davis, the groups founder. A known enviroextreme type, Kathy has pushed and lobbied for legislation and regulation that would lower the states deer herd for years. The causes she has championed pretty much mirror those suggested by the audubon deer forum for things “needed” to further reduce the deer herd. She has also many environmental connections, and has voted for further herd reductions on a citizen advisory committee where she took part, even though the Pa Game Commission had a set goal of stabilization. She was voted down by the majority of the other participants on the committee, and her initiative failed. She had also had an interest in obtaining a PGC commissioner seat for unit 2A, but her attempt was quashed by concerned sportsmen voicing concerns over the proposed nominee. Ms. Davis has also alienated several legislators with her percieved extremism and dogged determination when it comes to her misguided lobbying efforts. There are also multiple pgc commissioners that have also said they have “tuned her out” for the same reasons. Some members of one of the larger sportsmen groups in the state, apparently confused by so much percieved extremism, have actually inquired about her being an ANTI-hunter.

    Vern Ross, another of the hush members is, interestingly enough, the former executive director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission who was a driving force behind getting deer herd reduction into place. Vern will forever be looked back upon as one of the most controversial figures in Pa game management history for the role he played in forever changing Pa deer management under the Ridge administrations deer program.

    Don Heckman, a very active participant when it came to weighing in on game issues, has consistently voiced strong support for the deer management plan and reductions. Taking a very extreme stance on the issue for years. A very adament supporter of the Pa Game Commission deer plan, as were some of his close nwtf colleagues. Mr. Heckman has certainly done some good things for wild turkey management in the state, and that should not go ignored in this brief summary.

    Josh First. Mr. First has quite the lengthy list of environmentalist ties. He is also very active in the environmental arena, so much so, he was pointed to as being an environmental extremist by one of the states largest sportsmen groups who opposed his nomination when he tried to gain an appointment to the Pa game commissions board of commissioners. He has also worked at the Environmental Protection Agency, Dcnr (under Tom Ridge) is on the policy council of 10,000 friends of Pennsylvania and is coordinator for ‘Pa Habitat Alliance’ which is headed by the Audubon Society. His environmentalism resume is far too lengthy to list here, but much informtion is available online. Mr. First also made a failed attempt to gain the senatorial seat of Pa district 15 in 2012.

    Many believe that these people are nothing more than very willing pawns in the “deer wars” and it certainly looks that this may indeed be the case. Sunday hunting would go a long way towards being able to harvest more deer, and thereby further what some are calling an “environmentally extreme” agenda.

    It is our belief that the unsupportable deer herd reductions and resulting maleffects of extremely low hunter satisfaction and drop out is very damaging to our hunting heritage in Pennsylvania and it has gone on long enough.

    * THE IS A PUBLIC ALERT COURTESY OF THE CONCERNED SPORTSMEN OF PENNSYLVANIA.*

    • jacktate

      Since we are spending time revealing who ‘HUSH’ might be, who exactly are ‘Concerned Sportsmen of Pennsylvania’?

  • Harve Reworks

    I feel the right move was definitely made. It was actually funny to read the lawsuit claim of “civil rights”. The text reeked of agenda pushing and ineptitude on the part of ‘hush’. Now, hopefully they can live up to their name and hush.