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Environment | Law
9th Circuit won't rehear eagle feather cases


The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday said it won't rehear two cases challenging federal eagle protection laws.

Luis Manuel Rodriguez-Martinez and Mario Manuel Vasquez-Ramos were charged with violating the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Authorities said the California men had eagle feathers without a federal permit.

Neither man is a member of a federally recognized tribe though both claims ancestry from tribes based in Mexico. Both are practitioners of the Native American Church who said they used eagle feathers during ceremonies.

Rodriguez-Martinez and Vasquez-Ramos said their prosecution violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The law was passed after Native American Church practitioners were charged with violating drug laws.

The 9th Circuit rejected the claim and said the federal government has a "compelling interest" in protecting bald and golden eagles. The court cited a prior case in which a Native man from Canada was prosecuted for having eagle feathers without a permit.

The 9th Circuit first ruled in the case in April but issued a correction on Friday and denied all petitions for a rehearing.

Court Decision:
US v. Vasquez-Ramos (June 27, 2008)

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