January 01, 2018

Sturgeon v. Frost: A little case in Alaska poses big questions for federalism

Matthew J. Sanders

Time and again we see that big cases often begin with little disputes. On its face, Sturgeon v. Frost is a simple case about whether the National Park Service may prohibit John Sturgeon from using his hovercraft on waters within the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve (Preserve) in Alaska. But following the Ninth Circuit’s latest decision in the case, issued in October 2017 after a remand from the Supreme Court, Sturgeon may come to define the nature and reach of the federal government’s authority over waters in and beyond Alaska.

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