In separate cases appellate courts in New Jersey and Illinois have upheld statutes
designed to prevent anti-hunting activists from using protests to disrupt hunting.
In the New Jersey case, three New Jersey residents were represented by Anna
Charlton and Gary Francione of Rutgers Law School. Their lawsuit contended that
the statute unconstitutionally restricted the three resident’s right to free
speech. By restricting where and when the activists could protest against hunting,
the lawsuit argued, the state of New Jersey was unconstitutionally impinging
on their right to express their views to hunters.
The appellate court upheld the statute so long as it is used to establish standards
on the time, place and manner of anti-hunting protests rather than being used
to quash all anti-hunting protests altogether. As the court put it,
[t]his construction places a reasonable limitation on the reach of the Hunter
Harassment Statute in that it circumscribes the area where protesters may
not be free to express their anti-hunting ideas, while preserving areas outside
the immediate proximity of the hunting grounds for that purpose . . . By defining
interference as a form of physical impediment, coupled with the general and
specific intent requirements that solely implicate conduct, the statute is
not an overboard regulation of First Amendment rights.
In the Illinois case, a court there granted an injunction to the Woodstock
Hunt Club in Woodstock, Illinois, to bar members of the Chicago Animal Rights
Coalition from protesting on the road outside the club using megaphones, air
horns, sirens and other noisemaking devices. Chicago Animal Rights Coalition
member Steve Hindi was arrested in 1996 for flying a motorized paraglider over
hunters in order to scare away geese. Hindi was arrested and eventually sentenced
to probation for violating the hunter interference statute.
Previously the Illinois Supreme Court struck down a portion of the hunter interference
statute that unconstitutionally regulated the content of anti-hunting protests,
but upheld the portion of the statute that set time and place restrictions on
Which seems like an excellent compromise to me. Certainly animal rights activists
should have the right to protest hunting and to communicate their opposition
in public. On the other hand, this right to protest can be accommodated while
also preserving the right of hunters to hunt without activists intentionally