Murkowski Statement on Supreme Court’s Decision

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today released the following statement thanking the U.S. Supreme Court for agreeing to hear, for the second time, the case of 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.

“I respect and agree with the Supreme Court’s decision to hear Mr. Sturgeon’s case for a second time,” Murkowski said. “Alaskans needed the Supreme Court to take this case in order to secure our right to reasonable access to Alaska’s lands and waters and undo the damage threatened by the Ninth Circuit. I hope the court will again rule for Mr. Sturgeon, reject the flawed reasoning of the Ninth Circuit, and protect the subsistence rights‎ of Alaska’s first peoples and other rural residents under Katie John.”

In 2016, the Supreme Court acknowledged that “Alaska is different,” and reversed the Ninth Circuit’s earlier ruling against Mr. Sturgeon. On rehearing, the Ninth Circuit misconstrued its own Katie John precedent, unreasonably expanding a doctrine that honored Congressional intent to protect subsistence rights. This morning, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case a second time, providing another opportunity to overturn a Ninth Circuit ruling that refused to give fair interpretation to important federal laws written for Alaska.

Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Together with Sen. Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young, both R-Alaska, she submitted an amicus brief in support of Mr. Sturgeon the first time the Supreme Court heard his case.