Letters to the Editor

Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2001

Governor should take responsibility for defending state's sovereignty

The governor does not wish to settle the subsistence issue fairly or constitutionally valid. He keeps pleading for the Alaska Constitution to be amended, which is neither attainable nor judicially prudent.

The Alaska Supreme Court, in McDowell vs. State, stated: "We noted that several other jurisdictions have struck down intrastate residential preferences in fish and game statutes. The common right, which one individual of the whole community is entitled to enjoy as much as another, cannot be made by law the exclusive privilege of the people of a certain class or section upon terms and conditions that do not apply to the whole people alike."

In forming our U.S. Constitution, some larger colonies wanted their residents to have special rights to their more plentiful resources, but others, like this to a union of individual nations and not united states, with citizens of equal privileges and immunities. Adopted was Article IV. Section 3. "The citizens of each states shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states."

Judge Robert H. Bork said that the Privilege and Immunities clause was the constitutional protection of our individual equal rights that are not subject to the outcome of a popular vote.

The federal government has the servitude responsibility to the people as a whole and can designate federal public lands for beneficial uses, such as fish, wildlife, recreation, etc.

But when those uses are determined to be harvestable, such as hunting and fishing, then those users are regulated and enforced by the constitutional police power of the state. ("Congress is without power to enlist state cooperation in a joint federal state program by legislation which authorizes the state to violate the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment." Shapiro vs. Thompson and Townsend vs. Swank)

The Alaska Supreme Court, in its Totemoff vs. Alaska decision stated: "For a number of reasons, we find ... that the federal government has ... no authority to regulate hunting and fishing in Alaska's navigable waters." The court cited six explicit reasons and numerous federal acts, statutes and court decisions. It was also stated that "Alaska Supreme Court is not bound by decisions of federal courts other than United States Supreme Court on questions of federal law."

When I pointed out to Gov. Knowles that this was a unanimous decision by the highest court addressing this issue, he replied that some attorneys disagreed with this decision, then he walked away.

Will the governor continue to walk away from his responsibilities to defend Alaska's right of state sovereignty over hunting and fishing? Or will he keep his word and join the other 14 states that have voiced concern over the flagrant Katie John decision by the Ninth Court of Appeals?

Dale Bondurant


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