Murkowski: Latest Sturgeon Decision an Affront to All Alaskans

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released the following statement slamming the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for again ruling against John Sturgeon, an Alaskan who sued the National Park Service after being forced off of the Nation River in 2007 for using a hovercraft to hunt moose, as he had been doing for decades.

Just last year, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously (8-0) in favor of Mr. Sturgeon, who has fought his way through federal courts for 10 years to secure justice and his right to have reasonable access to lands and waters in Alaska. His fight has become symbolic of the burdensome and unwarranted use restrictions the federal government has sought to apply in Alaska in recent years. 

“This is a hard punch in the gut. Eighteen months ago, the nation’s highest court rejected what it called the Ninth Circuit’s ‘topsy-turvy approach’ to Mr. Sturgeon’s case, sending it back for further proceedings,” Murkowski said. “Unfazed, the same judge on the Ninth Circuit has announced a follow-on decision that again denies Mr. Sturgeon his rights. This is an affront to all Alaskans, and yet another example of a court that is deeply out of touch with both the law and the people. This decision cannot be allowed to stand.”

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Along with Sen. Dan Sullivan, also R-Alaska, she is cosponsoring S. 296, a bill to reform the present division of the federal Courts of Appeals. Murkowski believes the Ninth Circuit should be split into two courts so that Alaskans have at least a chance of laws, such as the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act, being fairly interpreted and applied in their legal proceedings.

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