By Rob Sexton, Vice President for Government Affairs
I am writing about Cass Sunstein, a close friend of President Obama’s, and his choice to head up the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. This position is otherwise known as the “regulatory czar”, a person with authority over rules and regulations coming from the executive branch which includes the Departments of Interior and Agriculture.
So what is wrong with Sunstein? Mr. Sunstein claims that, “we might ban hunting altogether, at least if it’s sole purpose is human recreation.” He has also indicated support for allowing lawsuits on behalf of animals, a right currently only extended to human beings.
These quotes were of concern enough that two US Republican Senators, Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Jon Cornyn of Texas, placed a temporary hold on the nomination. But for reasons not completely understood, both removed their holds, clearing the way for the nomination to proceed to a vote.
I think I know the reason. The Senators are not hearing from sportsmen…or farmers about why this nomination is terrible for our country and the future of hunting, conservation and farming. We have no right to expect these Senators, both advocates of hunting, to walk the plank when our own community is largely silent.
Oh not completely silent. We’ve issued press releases and on line alerts and other such obligatory hand wringing. But seasoned senators know the difference. They know that if this nomination were really important to us, they’d be hearing from hundreds of thousands if not millions of sportsmen and farmers.
So what’re we waitin’ for?
President Obama appointed Eric Holder, an openly pro-gun control attorney general. He appointed former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to be Secretary of Agriculture. Vilsack vetoed dove hunting legislation while Governor. He tapped Lisa Jackson, fresh from her campaign to shut down bear hunting in New Jersey to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
None of them have openly written about shutting down hunting. But Mr. Sunstein has. None of these others have written about lawsuits by animals. But Cass Sunstein did.
Worse, it is bantered about Washington DC’s political inner circle, that Mr. Sunstein is under consideration as a future Supreme Court justice by President Obama. How about the prospect of the first openly animal rights judge on the nation’s highest court?
One explanation I have heard for our community’s silence is that Mr. Sunstein is going to be confirmed regardless of our opposition, so why use up valuable political capital?
I guess my answer is this: Why have political capital in the first place if not to use it to try to block an animal rightist from being seated in a high level White House position? Further, I don’t believe that people and national, state and local sportsmen organizations give their hard earned money to the US Sportsmen’s Alliance to see us only get involved in the easy fights.
So this past week, USSA circulated a letter for organizations to sign on opposing this nominee. Fifteen organizations joined. The letter will be sent to Senators this week.
Although a step in the right direction, we need more than just a letter. So this week, USSA is calling on these fifteen organizations and the rest of the sportsmen’s community to fire up our grassroots supporters and turn them loose on the US Senate.
We ask you to help fight Sunstein's appointment by calling each of your two US Senators and asking them to oppose the nomination of Cass Sunstein as Regulatory Czar.