Governor Walker Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Sturgeon Case - P.O.W. Report

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Governor Walker Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Decision in Sturgeon Case

No. 16-24
Katie Marquette, Press Secretary – (907) 465-5801
Aileen Cole, Deputy Press Secretary – (907) 269-7458

March 22, 2016 JUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker and Attorney General Craig Richards applauded the United States Supreme Court today for its decision in the Surgeon v. Frost case. At a press conference with members of the Alaska Legislature in Juneau, Governor Walker stressed the importance of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and the issue of protecting state rights.

“The U.S. Supreme Court today unanimously reversed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in Sturgeon v. Frost. All the U.S. Supreme Court justices, conservative and liberal, recognized Alaska’s unique circumstances and ANILCA’s role in safeguarding Alaska’s sovereignty,” said Governor Bill Walker.

In an 8-0 opinion, the Supreme Court sided with Alaska resident John Sturgeon, who challenged the National Park Service’s ban of hovercraft use on all navigable waters, including state-owned navigable waters. The case will now be sent back to the Ninth Circuit to re-evaluate the case in light of today’s decision. At that time, the lower court will address a number of important questions under new guidance from the Supreme Court, including recognition of ANILCA and management of state resources. The State of Alaska is continuing to evaluate today’s opinion.

In the Court’s own words, “ANILCA repeatedly recognizes that Alaska is different” and ANILCA’s “Alaska-specific provisions reflect the simple truth that Alaska is often the exception, not the rule” when it comes to the Park Service’s general land management authority.

“I want to personally thank John Sturgeon for pouring his own personal time and resources into this case,” said Governor Walker. “I am pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court has vindicated Mr. Sturgeon’s perseverance. In passing ANILCA, Congress acknowledged the exceptional realities of Alaska requiring an important role for the State in making resource management decisions.”

This case gave Alaska the rare opportunity to argue before the nation’s highest Court during oral arguments in Washington, D.C. In her arguments to the Supreme Court, Alaska Assistant Attorney General Ruth Botstein explained that Alaska’s sovereign authority over its lands and waters was both instrumental to Alaska’s statehood and was essential to allowing the State to help meet the needs of its people. Alaskans rely on the State’s abundant resources in ways that are unparalleled in the rest of the country. They use and access the state’s lands and waters to provide for their families, to travel to and from their homes, to stock and purchase essential winter fuel and other everyday supplies, and to recreate.

“The State was pleased to partner with and support Mr. Sturgeon in bringing these issues to the Court’s attention,” said Attorney General Richards. “We are proud that in unanimously reversing the Ninth Circuit’s decision, the Supreme Court has given voice to Alaska’s exceptional way of life.”

Link to Press Conference Video:

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