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United States v. Friday

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20112
Nos. No. 06-8093, (10th Cir., 05/08/2008)

The Tenth Circuit reversed and remanded a lower court decision dismissing a Native American tribe member's indictment for shooting an eagle without a permit in violation of the Bald and Golden Eagle Act. The lower court ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act precluded the government from prosecuting the tribe member under the Eagle Act (Eagle Act) because it substantially burdened the member's religious practice. The Eagle Act and its regulations, however, are the least restrictive means of pursuing the government's compelling interest in preserving the bald eagle. By enacting a law banning the taking of eagles and then permitting religious exceptions, the government has tried to accommodate Native American religions while still achieving its compelling interests. The court also rejected claims that it would have been futile for the member to have applied for a permit under the Eagle Act.