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Supreme Court declines to hear Alaska’s ‘Katie John’ waterway case

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Monday, March 31, 2014, at 9:03 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, March 31, 2014, at 9:27 a.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a long-running dispute over management of Alaska’s waterways.

The decision effectively upholds a lower court’s decision in what’s become popularly known as the “Katie John case.” This continues the federal government control’s over hunting and fishing on navigable state-owned waters adjacent to federal land.

The decision, a blow to the state and a victory for the Alaska Federation of Natives, upholds a 2013 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The state of Alaska had petitioned the high court, seeking review.

“Alaska’s authority over its navigable waters strikes at the core of what it means for Alaska to be a state,” the state’s brief declared.

As is customary, the court did not issue any explanation for the decision not to reconsider the case. Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., recused himself from participating.

At least four of the Supreme Court’s nine justices must agree to hear a case in order for it to be considered. Only about 75 cases are heard every term, a small percentage of the total number of petitions filed.

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