A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit by a hunters' group that had challenged Pennsylvania's long-standing ban on Sunday hunting, saying she saw no proof the hunters' constitutionally protected rights were being harmed.
U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane made the ruling in a suit brought by the Lancaster County-based Hunters United for Sunday Hunting against the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the agency that enforces the state's game code.
Kane said she could find no proof that courts have extended Second Amendment protections to include recreational hunting. She also found that the hunters could not prove that the law unfairly discriminated between classes of hunters or that the ban on Sunday hunting violates their religious freedoms.
The Sunday hunting law does include some exceptions. For instance, foxes, coyotes, crows and feral hogs can be hunted on Sunday. In addition, hunters may hunt on Sunday on non-commercial private property. Violators of the law can lose their hunting licenses.
Lawmakers have tried, but failed, to repeal the Sunday hunting law.
Notably, in 2011, then-House Game and Fisheries Committee Chairman John Evans sponsored a bill to permit hunting in the state on Sundays. He said opposition by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau stalled action on the measure.
The farm bureau argued that people should be allowed to preserve one day a week to be outside without running into hunters or hearing gunfire. Outdoor recreation groups also were opposed to the bill.
Earlier in 2011, the game commission's board voted 4-3 in favor of repealing the Sunday hunting ban.