Who Makes the Rules? The State or the Feds?

Alaskan hunter John Sturgeon is headed back to the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) for the second time on the same case. At issue is which governmental entity has jurisdiction over state waterways which run through federal land in Alaska. Mr. Sturgeon, and the State of Alaska in its supporting brief, hold that the state makes the rules. The National Park Service (NPS) claims that it is within their jurisdiction to make rules–which supersede state rules and regulations. The Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (ANILCA) was the law of the land for years but in 1996, the NPS began using a different interpretation.

Mr. Sturgeon got a partial victory from SCOTUS in 2016 but much of his case was remanded back to the 9th Circuit Court. He went back and checked off that box and now SCOTUS has agreed to hear his case again. Read the latest about this from MSN.

At its core, this case is about state sovereignty, and not just for Alaska, but for many western states which have a large percentage of federal land. In Alaska, that number stands at nearly 62% of land.

Here’s a map from the Tax Foundation which illustrates the percentage of federally owned land by state as of 2010 (click it to enlarge).

We commend Mr. Sturgeon for his years of legal wrangling and wish him well.