The Game is Afoot: Constitutionalizing the Right to Hunt and Fish in the Tennessee Constitution

53 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2009 Last revised: 21 May 2014

Date Written: July 15, 2009


The normative role of state constitutions, which are simultaneously paramount state law and inferior to the whims of even the most minor federal regulation, is a matter of some uncertainty. In recent years, state constitutions have been significantly affected by another wave of popular constitutionalism. As part of this movement, since 1996, seven states have adopted constitutional provisions guaranteeing a right to hunt and fish. This article explores the constitutionalization of hunting and fishing rights under state constitutions. It begins by tracing hunting and fishing rights through western legal history with a special emphasis on Ancient Rome, England, and the American colonies. It directs attention to the constitutional status of hunting and fishing rights under the federal and state constitutions including the dramatic surge in the constitutionalization of such rights since the mid-1990s. It addresses the reason for this surge as well as the existent legal effect of these state constitutional hunting and fishing rights provisions. With Tennesseans currently debating the adoption of such a provision, the article next turns to addressing the likely legal impact of Tennessee’s proposed hunting and fishing rights amendment. The article concludes by discussing the role of state constitutions and whether a hunting and fishing rights provision is the type of right that is appropriate for enshrinement therein.

Keywords: Animal Rights, Fishing Rights, Hunting Rights, State Constitutional Law, State Constitutions, Tennessee Constitution

Suggested Citation

Usman, Jeffrey Omar, The Game is Afoot: Constitutionalizing the Right to Hunt and Fish in the Tennessee Constitution (July 15, 2009). Tennessee Law Review, Vol. 77, p. 57, 2009. Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey Omar Usman (Contact Author)

Belmont University - College of Law ( email )

1900 Belmont Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37212
United States

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