Another Law Gone Wrong

I’m not sure if this meets the precise definition of a “law gone wrong,” but in my home state of Virginia it is illegal “to hunt or kill any wild bird or wild animal, including any nuisance species, with a gun, firearm or other weapon on Sunday, which is hereby declared a rest day for all species of wild bird and wild animal life.”

Although I was born into a family of church-going hunters, I was always more sympathetic to the church part than to the hunting part.  Consequently, I have no problem whatsoever with Sunday, or any other day for that matter, being declared a day of rest for wild animals (or at least a day on which they cannot be killed).

What I find peculiar (and wrong) is the statute’s one exception:  day of rest notwithstanding, raccoons can be hunted and killed in Virginia on Sundays, so long as the hunting is done between midnight and 2:00 a.m.  (I am not making this up.  If you doubt this, check out Va. Code § 29.1-521(A)(1).)

Because of their semi-domesticated qualities, especially when young, raccoons have always been my favorite wild animals.  But even without this affection, I would like to think that I would find it unfair, and  maybe even unconstitutional in some sublime sense, that one species of woodland animal would be deprived of 1/12 of its statutory day of rest.

Can such a classification purport to have a rational basis?  After Romer v. Evans and United States v. Virginia, I think not.


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Scott Butler

    Good post. Even if the classification does not have a rational basis under Romer v. Evans, who would have standing to challenge the statute?

  2. Andrew Spillane

    This calls for a watershed decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, an opinion with an introductory paragraph that would read something like what follows:

    “The question presented is whether the word ‘person,’ as it is used in the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, extends beyond human beings. We hold that ‘person’ also includes within its ambit members of the animal kingdom and all lower forms of life substantially similar to animals. To the extent that any of our previous cases have suggested otherwise, they are overruled. Humans do not hold an indomitable monopoly on the enjoyment of the basic guarantees of life, liberty, and property. The blessings of freedom are open to all with even a modicum of capacity to enjoy them.”

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