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Baldwin v. Fish & Game Commission of Montana

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Brief Fact Summary.

Baldwin and several other Montana residents sued the Fish & Game Commission of Montana for violation of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV § 2.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Privileges and Immunities does not include protecting out of state residents from higher fees for hunting licenses.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

And a State's interest in its wildlife and other resources must yield when, without reason, it interferes with a nonresident's right to pursue a livelihood in a State other than his own, a right that is protected by the Privileges and Immunities Clause.

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Facts.

Montana charged out of state residents significantly more (7 1/2 to 25 times more) for elk and deer hunting licenses than it charged state residents. Lester Baldwin was a Montana outfitter and hunting guide. Baldwin and several other Montana residents sued the Fish & Game Commission of Montana for violation of the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Art. IV § 2.

Issue.

Does Montana’s charging out of state residents higher fees for hunting licenses violate the Privileges and Immunities Clause?

Held.

No, the Privileges and Immunities Clause does not apply to this situation.

Discussion.

The Privileges and Immunities Clause has not been fully delineated, but it is understood to prevent a state from imposing unreasonable burdens on citizens of other states for things that go on in that state, for the ownership of property in the state, and for access to the courts of that state.

But there are some areas that are okay for a state to distinguish between their citizens and the citizens of another state (eg. voting rights, holding state office).

Elk are a limited resource that Montana has an interest in protecting, and hunting licenses do not fall within the purview of the Privileges and Immunities Clause.


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