Hunter-harassment law stands

  The Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to Montana's "hunter harassment" law which prohibits intentional interference with lawful hunting. A Gallatin County, Mont., court convicted animal rights activist John Lilburn of a misdemeanor under the law in 1990 for stepping in front of a buffalo hunter's rifle and shouting, "Don't shoot!" The conviction was overturned by a Montana appeals court in 1993 on the grounds that the law violated Lilburn's first amendment right to free speech (HCN, 7/26/93). Last summer, when the Montana Supreme Court ruled the law constitutional, Lilburn decided to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lilburn says he thinks the court backed away because justices didn't find his case precedent-setting. The outcome might have been different had he challenged part of the law which prohibits "verbally disturbing" a hunter during the hunt, he adds. A federal law, passed as part of last year's crime bill, prohibits only physical disruptions. Although every state but Hawaii now has a hunter harrassment law, some are being challenged in state courts. Eric Glitzenstein, one of Lilburn's attorneys, says that makes the issue far from decided; he believes the Supreme Court will have to eventually take up the question.


*Anders Halverson


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