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U.S. Supreme Court

Baldwin v. Fish & Game Comm'n of Montana, 436 U.S. 371 (1978)

Baldwin v. Fish and Game Commission of Montana

No. 76-1150

Argued October 5, 1977

Decided May 23, 1978

436 U.S. 371


Appellants brought this action for declaratory and other relief claiming that the Montana statutory elk hunting license scheme, which imposes substantially higher (at least 7 1/2 times) license fees on nonresidents of the State than on residents, and which requires nonresidents (but not residents) to purchase a "combination" license in order to be able to obtain a single elk, denies nonresidents their constitutional rights guaranteed by the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV, § 2, and by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. A three-judge District Court denied all relief to appellants.


1. Access by nonresidents to recreational big game hunting in Montana does not fall within the category of rights protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause. Only with respect to those "privileges" and "immunities" bearing upon the vitality of the Nation as a single entity must a State treat all citizens, resident and nonresident, equally, and here equality in access to Montana elk is not basic to the maintenance or wellbeing of the Union. Pp. 436 U. S. 378-388.

2. The statutory scheme is an economic means not unreasonably related to the preservation of a finite resource, elk, and a substantial regulatory interest of that State, and hence does not violate the Equal Protection Clause. In view of the fact that residents contribute to the costs of maintaining the elk hunting program, the great increase in nonresident hunters in recent years, the limit in the elk supply, and the difficulties in supervising hunting practices, it cannot be said that either the license fee differentials or the required combination license for nonresidents is irrational. Pp. 436 U. S. 388-391.

417 F.Supp. 1005, affirmed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J.,and STEWART, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J.,filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 436 U. S. 392. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which WHITE and MARSHALL, JJ., joined, post, p. 436 U. S. 394.

Page 436 U. S. 372

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