Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lester Baldwin v. Fish & Game Commn. of Montana case brief

Lester Baldwin v. Fish & Game Commn. of Montana case brief summary
436 U.S. 371 (1978)

Appellants, the resident and the nonresidents sought review of the decision of the United States District Court for the District of Montana, which entered a judgment denying all relief to them from appellee state fish and game commission in their action challenging the Montana elk-hunting licensing scheme as applied to nonresidents.

The resident and the nonresidents paid different fees for licenses. As a result, a suit was instituted alleging an unconstitutional disparity between residents and nonresidents in the state license system under the Privileges andImmunities Clause of the U.S. Constitutional, art. IV, § 2, and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The district court found in favor of the commission. The resident and nonresidents appealed.

  • The court found that the licensing system bore some rational relationship to legitimate state purposes. 
  • The court concluded that the nonresidents' interest in sharing the limited resource on more equal terms with residents simply did not fall within the purview of the Privileges and Immunities Clause
  • Equality in access to state elk was not basic to the maintenance or well-being of the union, and whatever rights or activities were fundamental under the Privileges and Immunities Clause, elk hunting by nonresidents was not one of them. 
  • The legislative choice was an economic means not unreasonably related to the preservation of a finite resource and a substantial regulatory interest of the state. 
  • It served to limit the number of hunter days.

The court affirmed the judgment of the district court.

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