Molloy Caves, Enviros Ready 9th Circuit Appeal

Aaron Flint posted on August 04, 2011 11:06 :: 1405 Views

It seems the pressure is finally getting to US District Judge Don Molloy (L-Missoula).  As the AP reports, Judge Molloy denied an effort to place wolves back on the Endangered Species List.  Don’t get your hopes up too much just yet, though, as environmental groups appear to already have their bags packed for San Francisco to launch an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

We’ve seen this game all too often here in Montana in recent years.  Judge Molloy is likely to side with environmental groups when they land in front of his court.  Even in the instance that Molloy doesn’t side with the environmental groups, they can turn to their buddies in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  

The wild card this time around?  2012.  Remember, the liberal dominated 9th Circuit and Judge Molloy himself only came to power as a result of Democratic members of the US Senate, and a nomination from a Democratic President.  While the 9th Circuit (just like Molloy) may be tempted to place wolves back on the Endangered Species List, they also are readily aware of the growing backlash from sportsmen and agriculture groups over wolves.  The 9th Circuit may put this fight aside for now, in hopes to provide cover fire for President Obama and vulnerable Western Democrats. 

More on the story from the AP:    

The way Congress went about removing endangered species protections from the Northern Rockies gray wolf undermines the rule of law, but it did not violate the Constitution, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy reluctantly upheld a budget rider passed by Congress in April that stripped wolves of federal protections in Montana, Idaho and parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

KPAX-TV in Missoula had this:

The conservation groups tried to argue that action, attached to a federal budget bill, violated the Constitution by telling the courts the provision couldn’t be changed.

Molloy agreed somewhat with the conservation groups, saying the rider was a “debatable policy change”, writing that “inserting environmental policy changes into appropriations bills may be politically expedient” but that it “transgressed” constitutional process.

However, he goes on to write in the 18-page brief, “If I were not constrained by what I believe is binding precedence from the Ninth Circuit,” that he would say the rider is “unconstitutional because it violates the Separation of Powers Doctrine.”

The Missoulian has a link to the full order which can be found by clicking here.

Meanwhile, The LA Times (via AP) notes that Wyoming and the federal government have now also reached agreement over wolf delisting.

Wyoming would agree to maintain at least 100 gray wolves outside Yellowstone, including 10 breeding pairs, officials announced Wednesday. There are now about 230 wolves outside the park and 110 more inside it.

Wolves immediately outside Yellowstone would be subject to regulated hunting in a zone that would expand slightly in the winter, giving the wolves more protection south of Jackson. Those elsewhere would be classified as predators that could be shot on sight.

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