Expert Opinions

President Obama may have the opportunity to appoint one or more justices to the Supreme Court. Why is the make-up of the Supreme Court important to sportsmen?


"The Supreme Court is critical to sportsmen in many ways including the second amendment, which is the bellwether for most shooters and hunters. How and in what manner business is transacted and the nature and extent of government are ongoing ideological struggles that the Supreme Court has ended up defining for the American people. The next Supreme Court will have a major role in how government is positioned as we fight our way out of the financial predicament we’ve been in. Since government directly impacts public lands and the management strategies used on private lands, sportsmen have a major stake in who sits on the Supreme Court."

Jay McAninch
President & Chief Executive Officer - Archery Trade Association
EDUCATION B.S. 1974 Fisheries and Wildlife Biology, Iowa State University. M.S. 1976 Zoology/Wildlife Management, Ohio State University. Certification - Wildlife Biologist.  1982  The Wildlife Society. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE August 2000 – Present: President/Chief Executive Officer, Archery Trade Association. August 1998 – July 2000: President, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Washington, D.C. January 1989 – July 1998: Wildlife Research Biologist, Minnesota DNR. September 1976 – December 1988: Wildlife Ecologist, Institute of Ecosystem Studies, New York Botanical Garden PROFESSIONAL AWARDS Special Appreciation Award, Suburban Whitetail Management of Northern Virginia, February, 2011. Special Recognition Leadership Award, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, 100th Annual Meeting, September, 2010 Muzzy Tall Man Award, Muzzy Products Corporation, 2009 Special Congressional Service Citation, Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, 106th Congressional Session, July, 2000. First Honorary Membership, Pope and Young Club.  1996. First Lee Gladfelter Memorial Award for Professional Excellence and Achievement on behalf of Bowhunting. Pope and Young Club.  1995. Special Recognition for Outstanding Leadership and Improvement of Bowhunting Award, Minnesota Bowhunters, Inc. 1995. Outstanding Professional Recognition – White-tailed Deer Research, Minnesota Deer Hunters Association. 1995. Exemplary Contributions to America's Bowhunters and the Conservation Movement, American Archery Council.  1995. Special Recognition Award for Deer Wounding Research Study, World Bowhunting Chapter, Safari Club International.  1995. Special Recognition Award for Excellence and Professionalism, Minnesota Fish and Wildlife Employees Association.  Awarded in 1992, 1993. Outstanding Contributions to Fish and Wildlife Management Award, Minnesota Fish and Wildlife Employees Association.  1992. Natural Resource Communication  and Presentation Award, North Dakota Chapter, The Wildlife Society. 1992. Special Meritorious Achievement Award, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.  Awarded in 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997. Certificate of Recognition, Northeast Section, The Wildlife Society. 1989. SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL PUBLICATIONS I have authored or co-authored 52 publications on deer biology, ecology and behavior, landscape ecology and management, Lyme Disease, urban deer ecology and management and bowhunting and hunting. I have authored or co-authored 3 books and been a Technical Editor for book publishers. I have authored articles for many hunting magazines and had a column for 8 years, “Issues and Answers” for Deer and Deer Hunting Magazine. I authored or co-authored 312 abstracts on deer biology, ecology and behavior, landscape ecology and management, Lyme Disease, and hunting. POLITICAL, LEGAL AND POLICY EXPERIENCE I have been an expert witness in 24 court cases involving urban deer management, bowhunting and hunting programs. I have testified in front of state legislative and Congressional committees, in front of state natural resource and wildlife commissions and boards and in front of county and local government agencies and councils. I have worked with many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, been involved in the development and management of 5 major pieces of legislation that passed the US Congress and were signed by the President. I have attended 3 White House Conservation Conferences, visited the White House on 2 occasions, and have attended meetings with President’s George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

"I expect the next decade will bring significant cases concerning public access to public waters and lands before the Supreme Court, among other sportsmen issues.  It is important that we have a Court that understands and maintains the rights of public access to public fish and wildlife resources."

Gordon Robertson
Vice President, Government Affairs - American Sportfishing Association
Gordon Robertson has a natural resources career than spans more than 30 years, much of which has been in natural resource policy, state and federal legislation, as well as administration of fish and wildlife programs. He is currently Vice President of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) in Alexandria, Virginia. The ASA represents the sportfishing industry and has over 900 manufacturing, wholesale, distributor, and retail members. The Association protects its members’ interest for fisheries and angler issues and a variety of trade issues, as well as operating its annual trade show. An avid hunter and angler, Mr. Robertson is an experienced lobbyist and administrator. He is a member of the American Fisheries Society, Wildlife Society and the Society of American Foresters, as well as numerous natural resource and wildlife conservation organizations. He has chaired and served on numerous national committees and task forces that have helped shape issues ranging from wilderness management to assuring that dollars paid by manufacturers and hunters and anglers remain dedicated to the purpose of sound fish and wildlife programs. Throughout his career, he has been involved in key federal and state legislative and policy decisions for the benefit of anglers and hunters and the resources they pursue. Prior to joining the American Sportfishing Association Robertson, was Deputy Chief of the fish and wildlife program of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. He previously held the position of Legislative Counsel for the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies in Washington, D.C.; Northeast Representative for the Wildlife Management Institute; Conservation Biologist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish and Wildlife; and Service Forester for the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources. A native of West Virginia, Robertson received both his bachelor’s degree in Forestry with an emphasis on wildlife management, and his master’s degree in wildlife management from West Virginia University. He has been recognized at the national and regional level for his contributions to resource management and civic activity.

"The Supreme Court appointments last for life, and the political views of the court majority can have a dramatic influence on which cases they agree to hear and how they interpret the Constitution and the law in the cases which come before them. Presidential appointments to the Supreme Court tend to have a political overtone and they can have an influence on the ‘law of the land’ for many years. The next President may have the opportunity to make as many as three Supreme Court appointments."

Phil Morlock
Director of Environmental Affairs - Shimano, Inc.
As Director of Environmental Affairs for Shimano in the U.S. and Canada, Phil Morlock oversees Shimano’s environmental stewardship programs in both the fishing and bike divisions, and represents the company in advocacy issues with federal, state and provincial governments and natural resource agencies in the U.S. and Canada. He is frequently in Washington working with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation as a BOD member  and groups like the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) (serving as Chairman of the ASA Government Affairs Committee on Freshwater Issues) and as a BOD member of the Center for Coastal Conservation to advance  and protect the rights and privileges of all recreational anglers. As an avid angler and hunter Mr. Morlock represents the Canadian Sportfishing Industry Association (CSIA) and serves as Chair of the Outdoor Caucus Association of Canada in dealing with Canada’s Parliament.  Mr. Morlock has dedicated countless hours to the issues facing sportsmen on both sides of the border and received the 2008 CSIA Chairman’s Award for his work to establish the Parliamentary Outdoors Caucus, modeled after the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus.

"In the increasingly pluralistic society in which we live, there are many varying viewpoints about how our nation’s natural resources should be used and what role – if any – sportsmen should play in that. Many of these disagreements on topics, such as whether hunting should be permitted in National Wildlife Refuges or balancing critical habitat preservation with the need to develop domestic energy sources, will likely find their way to the Supreme Court in the years ahead. Many of the decisions those Justices render will have a profound impact on the future of hunting and fishing in America."

Christian Berg
Editor - Petersen's Bowhunting
Christian Berg is editor of Petersen’s BOWHUNTING. Berg is an avid hunter and angler, but his biggest outdoor passion is getting close to trophy whitetails with bow in hand. When he’s not hunting or working at “The Modern Bowhunting Authority,” Berg enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife, two sons and Goldie, his shed-hunting Labrador retriever.

"The Supreme Court appointments are critical in that justices must understand the crucial balance between private rights and the public good."

Karl Wickstrom
Founder/Editor-in-Chief - Florida Sportsman
Karl Wickstrom, born Moline, IL, Sept. 20, 1935, grad. University of Florida BSJ, 1957: U.S. Air Force reserve 1958-1966; reporter/editor Orlando Sentinel, 1958-59; writer, The Miami Herald 1960-68, first place investigative reporting Florida Associate Press, 1966, national first place public service, Sigma Delta Chi journalism society. Executive asst., The Florida Senate, 1967; Founded Wickstrom Publishers, 1968, publishing Aloft Magazine for National Airlines passengers, Florida Sportsman Magazine. Titles presented more than 25 awards, Florida Magazine Assn., Florida Outdoor Writers Assn. Continuous publishing of magazine-generated conservation content and Openers editorials, summarized separately as Florida Sportsman’s Conservation Record. Initiated gill-net ban constitutional amendment campaign, adopted ’95; recognized as man of year by IGFA and nationally by the American Sportfishing Assn. and several other organizations. Board member of constitutional amendment campaigns to require that polluters  pay for Everglades degradation, and unification of fresh and saltwater management under one agency. A founder/honorary chair, vp, of Florida Conservation Assn./Coastal Conservation Assn., Appointed to governor’s Commission on the Future of the Environment; board member National Coalition for Marine Conservation, board member Florida Oceanographic Society, vp, Rivers Coalition of Martin/St. Lucie County. Remains as founder/editor-in-chief, Florida Sportsman.

"Supreme Court Decisions can have a significant affect on sportsmen and their interests. For example, on January 9, 2001 the Court issued the SWANCC decision. This could cause the loss of protection of America’s wetlands, which are vital to sportsmen and wildlife for habitat and hunting."

Steve Mealey
Vice President for Conservation - Boone and Crockett Club
Born: Waldport, Oregon, 1942. Raised: Sweet Home & Blue River, Oregon. Education: BA Pol. Sci., U of O, 1964; BS Forestry, U of Idaho, 1973; MS Wildlife Mgmt., Mont. State Univ., 1975. Work Experience: US Air Force Intelligence Officer, 1964-68; Big Game Hunting and River Outfitter and Guide, Salmon, Idaho, 1968-72; Grizzly Bear Researcher, Wyoming and Montana 1975-77; US Forest Service, 1977-97 (positions included wildlife biologist, forest supervisor on Shoshone and Boise National Forests, co-leader of Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project, Assistant Director of Wildlife and Fish, and Assistant Chief for Strategic Planning); Director, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 1997-99; Executive Director, Boone and Crockett Club, 1999-2001, and Manager of Wildlife, Watersheds, and Aquatic Ecology, Boise Cascade Corporation, 2001-2005. Current Positions: Retired; President, Mealey Timber Company; Honorary Life Member, Boone and Crockett Club; Vice President for Conservation, Boone and Crockett Club. Home: On the McKenzie River near Leaburg, Oregon. Family: Married since 1964 to Marty; 3 grown children, and 3 grandchildren  

"Second Amendment issues are the most obvious area in which the U.S. Supreme Court can shape our sporting future. But potential rulings on endangered species management also could have a huge impact."

Gordon Whittington
Editor-in-Chief - North American Whitetail
Gordon Whittington has been an avid deer hunter for more than 50 years, the last 28 of those while associated with North American Whitetail. His passion for whitetails has led him to hunt and observe them in nearly 40 states and provinces from northeastern Canada to Mexico and even New Zealand. Gordon edited NAW for almost two decades and currently serves as editor in chief. In addition to being a regular contributor to the magazine and a founding cast member of both NAW TV and Dr. Deer, Gordon is a popular seminar speaker and book author on a broad range of topics associated with deer hunting and management.

"Because, ultimately, “the Law is what the Supreme Court says it is.” And the good decisions [for sportsmen] have come down on 5-4 votes—one vote away from disaster."

Steve Sanetti
President & CEO - NSSF
Prior to becoming President and CEO of the NSSF in May, 2008, Steve culminated his 28 year career at Ruger with a five year term as its President and Chief Operating Officer. He has served on the boards of the NSSF, SAAMI, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities, and the Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation. A hunter and target shooter since his college years on the VMI Rifle Team, he is an avid firearms collector, NRA Certified Rifle, Pistol and Home Firearms Safety Instructor, and a Technical Advisor to the Association of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners. Steve is the recipient of the 2004 Shooting Industry Academy of Excellence Award, a professional member of the Boone & Crockett Club and a member of the Board of Firearms Advisors for the Cody Firearms Museum.

"The Supreme Court will hear many important cases regarding gun rights, habitat protection and animal rights in the future.  The choices for Supreme Court justices can make a huge difference in the interpretation of the constitution and the laws of America.  These interpretations can affect the future of conservation and of hunting and fishing in America. As an example, consider the impact of the Rapanos decision on the application of watershed protections under the Clean Water Act, to headwater streams and wetlands.  This decision set watershed protections in America back 50 years.  The current rate of development in headwaters due to this decision will affect fishing and hunting for our children and grandchildren.  Repairing the damage, if it can even be done, will cost millions down the road."

Jim Martin
Conservation Director, Berkley Conservation Institute - Pure Fishing
Jim Martin retired after 30 years with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and now works as conservation director for the Berkley Conservation Institute, a branch of Pure Fishing.  Pure Fishing is the largest fishing tackle company in the World and is an industry leader in conservation advocacy. During his career with ODFW, Jim spent six years as chief of fisheries and three years as salmon advisor to Governor John Kitzhaber.  Jim led the team that developed the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds, a state conservation plan to address Endangered Species and clean water issues in Oregon. Jim has a Bachelors Degree in Wildlife and Masters Degree in Fisheries from Oregon State University. Jim formerly held a courtesy appointment at OSU, where he taught Natural Resource Problem Solving in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. Jim is the former Chairman of the Board of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.   He is a science and policy advisor for the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Assn.  In 2005, Jim was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin.  He was recognized for lifetime achievement as an alumni fellow by Oregon State University in November, 2011. Jim is a lifelong sportsman and loves salmon, ducks and Labrador Retrievers.  He lives in the small community of Mulino, about 15 miles south of Portland, Oregon.  He shares his dream home in the country with his wife of 43 years, Carolyn, and Kodiak and Yukon, the wonderdogs.

"As the ultimate arbiter between the Executive and Legislative branches of government, the Supreme Court will decide on the constitutionality of decisions made at both levels of government.  Issues concerning gun control, evolution theory as a basis of science, wetland protection and many others, are important to the future of hunting, fishing, and conservation."

Dr. Steve Williams
President - Wildlife Management Institute
Steve Williams is the President of the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI), a 101-year old, non-profit conservation organization dedicated to science-based, professional wildlife management.  WMI provides: science and management support, program review and policy development advice, conservation information and education, conservation project administration, and service to our profession and partners. As President of WMI, Steve serves on the Board of Directors for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports, Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, National Conservation Leadership Institute, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partners, and is a professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club and The Wildlife Society. Prior to joining WMI, Steve served as Director of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Deputy Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and Assistant Director for Wildlife and Deer Project Leader of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.  He received his B.S. and Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University and a M.S. from the University of North Dakota.

"With a current five-to-four conservative majority on the Court, it’s obvious the appointment of one or more liberal justices to the Court—something almost certain to happen if President Obama is re-elected—could swing all gun-rights decisions toward more restrictions."

Rick Van Etten
Editor - Gun Dog
Rick Van Etten, editor of Gun Dog, graduated from Western Illinois University with a B.A. in communications and an M.A. in English. A lifelong outdoors enthusiast, Rick has hunted upland gamebirds and waterfowl throughout North America with all breeds of sporting dogs, including his own field-bred Irish setters. He lives in Iowa, where he is currently introducing Mattie, his latest setter puppy, to Hawkeye ringnecks.

5 Responses
  • Hunter1

    This may be the most significant point in this election in terms of how sportsmen may be impacted by whoever is elected president.

  • G Boehmner

    Obama has all ready named 2 female justices to the court……one of which is a sworn ememy of free enterpise and gun control. Should he get the chance to nominate another ultra liberal to the high court it will throw the balance of power to those who wish to destroy our way of life for quite some time. This is THE most important election of our lifetime .

  • Jack Davis

    The Sportsmen is advocating on this page that we need to dump Obama to make sure he doesn’t appoint more gun and land grabbers, and on another page they have a sob fest on Lugar’s loss (THANK GOD), who voted for Kagan and Sotemayor and was so “balanced” his brains fell out as he voted with the dems on domestic and foreign policy.

    Is the Sportsmen a true advocate for hunting and the 2nd Amendment, or is this another one of those fake anti-gun groups dressed up in camo and plaid?

  • J.C.Neyhart

    The only thing the OBAMA LEFT fear is the armed Americans. If he gets one more of his jerks on the court there goes the 2nd Amendment. Watch out for the UN Small Arms Treaty. Remember what Holder tried to do with the guns going to Mexico. Don’t trust any of the so called DEMOCRATES

  • Edward E Smith

    The makeup of the Court is absolutely critical to gun owners. Period! Please remember they voted 5-4 on Heller which means there are already 4 people who do NOT think owning a gun is Constitutionally protected. They only need one more liberal-idiot to trash the 2nd into the dustbin of history.

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