I’ve been seeing some discussion lately of the proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution with respect to Hunting, Fishing, and “Harvesting Wildlife.” I wrote about it a couple of times back in 2015 (and in 2005, 2011, and 2013 it turns out)
So, once more with feeling, I suppose. Vote against this. We should only amend the Constitution when there is a clear need. It’s a foundational document, and we should not tinker with it lightly. If there is a problem, run-of-the-mill laws are usually sufficient. Amending the constitution is an extraordinary act. Furthermore, when we do amend the Constitution, the language should be direct and clear. In this case, the language isn’t clear, there is not a discernible problem being addressed, and there is no indication that ordinary legislation is somehow insufficient to address any problems there might be.
The proposed amendment states:
Section 39. (a) The right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife:
(1) is a valued part of Indiana’s heritage; and
(2) shall be forever preserved for the public good.
(b) The people have a right, which includes the right to use traditional methods, to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife, subject only to the laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly to:
(1) promote wildlife conservation and management; and
(2) preserve the future of hunting and fishing.
(c) Hunting and fishing shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.
(d) This section shall not be construed to limit the application of any provision of law relating to trespass or property rights.
Back in 2015, I raised the following questions and have not seen answers to them:
1. What does it mean to say “The right to harvest wildlife shall be forever preserved for the public good”?
2. What are “traditional methods?” Whose traditions. At what point in time? Can we develop new traditions? Can old traditions become non-traditional in some fashion?
3. If hunting and fishing are the preferred means of managing wildlife, can non-preferred methods be used where they are more effective or more desirable in some fashion? If so, what’s the point of this provision?
4. If the section is not construed to limit trespass or property rights, what laws or rights are limited?
At best, the proposed amendment does nothing. The middle option is that it opens up a can of unintended consequences. The worst is that there is something nefarious I don’t see. So, I would urge people to vote “no” on this.
Update Josh Claybourn has an analysis that goes much deeper than mine.
I’ve spent most of my life on the West Coast, where legislation by using initiatives to change the state constitution is the norm, including 15 years in California where it’s been completely out of control for many years.
This is not a place where Indiana wants to go. It allows small but well organized pressure groups to achieve results that they couldn’t in the legislature and to lock those results in for many years or forever.
At the same time, you end up with a legislature that will punt on all significant issues, including some where a legislative process, no matter how messy, would almost always yield better results than the broad electorate distracted by a hard fought, blood pressure raising general election.
Just say “no”.
Carlito Brigante says
I will cast a ‘No” vote.
Like what I’m saying will be news, but with a lot of these initiatives, as well as laws, what you read is not what you get. I mean, it sounds just reasonable that people should be able to hunt and fish, but that’s not what it means. (I wonder how many nonattorneys will read Josh Claybourne’s analysis!) Meanwhile, the average voter who knows nothing and is curious about even less, will see the initiative and, trusting our wise legislators, will assume that it must be in the interests of the common good. And you shouldn’t be able to put unnecessary restrictions on people who want to fish, right? I’m afraid that in Indiana, the State of Ignorance, this may have a chance to pass. I suspect that this example of conspiratorial thinking, a way of operation in Indiana that has become de rigueur, will come back to bite us. My wife and I voted against it anyway.
Carlito Brigante says
Indiana could devolve into Canadian and Russian levels of non stewardship of game and trophy animals.
I voted yesterday and had no idea this was going to be on the ballot.
I was deeply offended by it taking up valuable ballot space and the time of Indiana voters.
To me it was a no brainer and I still cant believe something so ridiculous was on the ballot.
How did that happen?
I’ve always found it interesting and significant that the ones who look for conspiracies and the bad behavior are the ones who perpetrate that sort of thing. Not necessarily a conspiratorial person myself, but like they say, if it quacks like a duck….
I guess my comment was prescient. I guess the day I wrote it, a Trump supporter was arrested for voting twice. There you go.
Carlito Brigante says
I heard that, too. I heard that the first time she voted with the comb-over going front to back. The second time she combed it over back to front. That is how they caught her. FWIW, she does look a little like Trump. Lank blonde hair, narrow eyes, tiny little round mouth.
Maybe with a brain to match the mouth… By the way, let me suggest the (short) book “The Elephant in the Room” by Jon Ronson. If you are an Amazon Prime member, it’s free as a Kindle. It’s about Alex Jones, the guy who has Trump’s ear. He’s one of those Texas conspiratorial guys, and to think he has influence over a potentially powerful man gives me chills. You can also hear an interview with Jon Ronson (a very credible Welsh journalist) on a Slate Trumpast podcast (http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/trumpcast/2016/10/where_does_donald_trump_get_his_conspiracy_theories.html).
The NRA and caged hunting lobbies buy the right majorities.