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.