From Virginia - Looking to Protect Constitutional Rights

Hello, my name is Robert Frommer, and I'm a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, a pro bono non-profit law firm that does not charge its clients for legal services. We litigate to secure broad rulings in favor of constitutional rights, including our right to be secure in our persons and property. That's what brought me to the forum.

Game wardens enforce states’ wildlife and hunting laws. In many of those states, the law says those wardens may “go upon any property, outside of buildings, posted or otherwise.” Wardens rely on this authority to enter, wander around, and even install surveillance cameras on rural private land.

They can do this because the U.S. Supreme Court gutted crucial Fourth Amendment protections with the “open fields” doctrine. That doctrine, first invented by the Court in 1924, says the Constitution does not protect any land beyond the are immediately surrounding the home (known as the “curtilage”).

But states can provide greater protections under their constitutions. My organization has brought one case challenging game wardens' use of the open fields doctrine under the Tennessee Constitution, which protects each individual’s “persons, houses, papers and possessions” from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

We want to bring more such cases, particularly in the following states: Alabama, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Rhode Island. To that end, we are looking for hunters and private property owners who want to exercise their constitutional rights. For more information, check out IJ's lawsuit against the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency or go to Report Abuse at