Washington Law Review


In Montana, nonresident sportsmen wishing to hunt solely for elk must purchase a big game combination license, though residents may acquire a separate elk license. In addition, Montana imposes substantially higher license fees on nonresidents, effectively requiring them to pay 28.2 times more than residents for the privilege of hunting elk. Plaintiffs challenged Montana's elk-hunting license fee scheme, charging that it discriminated against nonresident elk hunters in violation of the privileges and immunities clause of article IV, section 2 of the Constitution. A divided three-judge district court denied plaintiffs' demand for declaratory and other relief. In Baldwin v. Fish & Game Commission, the United States Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the scope of the privileges and immunities clause extends only to "fundamental rights" of citizenship and that equal access to Montana elk by nonresident hunters is not a fundamental privilege protected by the clause. Montana's licensing scheme, therefore, withstood the challenge.

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