The Libertarian Party has championed many cases before the U. S. Supreme Court, including our most recent First Amendment case, and we sympathize with the extraordinary costs of seeking relief. Fundamentally, the federal government has created a system where it restricts liberty through application and enforcement of laws.
“The US Constitution clearly talks about a limit of power for federal government,” said Daniel Fishman, LNC Executive Director. “Appealing that limit of power successfully should not be a right reserved for the wealthy. The LP remains committed to fighting for civil liberties for all and we maintain legal fund at lp.org/legal that people can donate to help us defray costs.
From the Washington Post:
Moose hunter John Sturgeon serves as both inspiration and warning for anyone who has ever gotten worked up over a perceived injustice and vowed to fight it “all the way to the Supreme Court.”
At the end of summer, Sturgeon’s supporters boarded a stern-wheeler for a trip down the Chena River for one last fundraiser. It was billed as the “Thanks a Million Victory Cruise.” There were drinks and dinner, tributes to Sturgeon and a silent auction offering uniquely Alaskan items such as a gold nugget and several fur pelts donated by Willy Keppel of the village of Quinhagak, nearly 600 miles away.
Turns out he is — he filled the freezer just a couple of weeks ago — and his grandkids will be just fine.
‘Alaska is often the exception, not the rule’
Sturgeon for years had used his hovercraft to traverse the shallow rivers to his favorite hunting spot near the Canadian border. But on this day, he was approached by National Park rangers who informed him that the craft was banned in all federal park lands. Not only was he barred from using it to get to the hunting ground, he was told he could not use it to get home.
Sturgeon was forced to drag the hovercraft home, and by then he was ready to sue.
Sturgeon is a businessman, but he also knew how state and federal agencies worked; he was once Alaska’s state forester.
Pope, the lawyer, believed the only place Sturgeon could win was at the Supreme Court. There was precedent at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that made victory at a lower court unlikely.
Pope once before had taken a case to the Supreme Court. It lasted 10 years, and he wasn’t ready to do that again. So he provided legal advice throughout the process, but another Anchorage law firm, Ashburn & Mason, became Sturgeon’s primary lawyers.
The firm threw everything into it, said lawyer Matthew Findley.
There was an unsuccessful trip to district court ($149,694 in legal fees and costs) and then an appeal to the 9th Circuit ($82,023), where Sturgeon lost again.
Sturgeon acknowledges he was about ready to give up at that point, knowing that the odds of getting a case accepted at the Supreme Court range from about 1 to 3 percent.
‘He took on the biggest of foes’
Dunleavy agreed. Alaskans found Sturgeon’s case appealing because he was fighting the idea that “folks thousands of miles away know what’s better for Alaska than the people who live here, the idea that folks thousands of miles away believe that we don’t know how to live in Alaska, that we don’t know how to take care of Alaska, we don’t know how to appreciate Alaska and that we need to be managed.”