This past week marked another step in the a long battle for Pennslyvanians wishing to hunt on Sundays.
Hunters United for Sunday Hunting filed a lawsuit in Middle District federal court in Harrisburg seeking to have the state’s prohibition against hunting on Sundays lifted. It claims the ban is unconstitutional under the First, Second and 14th amendments, TribLIVE reports.
Attorney Peter Russo claims the ban creates separate classes of citizens who are treated unequally. Russo also wrote that the “blue law” — designed to enforce religious standards — no longer makes sense when people can gamble, buy alcohol, and shop on Sunday.
The suit names the Pennsylvania Game Commission as the defendant, even though in 2010 the agency adopted a resolution supporting Sunday hunting.
“You can’t sue a state over this. You have to sue the regulatory authority. So it’s a bit of an oddball situation where we’re actually suing an agency that supports our position,” Brad Gehman, a Hunters United board member, told TribLIVE.
But the lawsuit is necessary because state lawmakers have repeatedly failed to overturn the ban on their own, said Josh First, who is also a board member for Hunters United.
“The legislature is paralyzed on this issue. So we have no other way to achieve our goal,” he told TribLIVE. “We’re stuck.”
Lawmakers had previously held hearings on various bills that would have either allowed Sunday hunting for specific species, or given the Game Commission authority to decide whether to include Sundays in seasons.
But those debates never went past the discussion phase.
Although the Game Commission lacks the power to make the legislative change, First believes if the court grants permission to roll Sundays into hunting seasons, that will push lawmakers hands to get involved and come up with guidelines.
See our report on why Sunday hunting bans still exist.