Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Alliance For The Wild Rockies v. Salazar

Mar 14: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case Nos. 11-35661 & 11-35670. Appealed from the United States District Court for the District of Montana. The Appeals Court explains that plaintiff environmental groups seek to enjoin the implementation of a statute, Section 1713 of the 2011 Appropriations Act, that orders the Secretary of the Interior to remove a portion of a distinct population of gray wolves from the protections of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) without regard to any statute or regulation that might otherwise apply.
    Section 1713 effectively undid an earlier district court decision that found that such an action by the government, a "partial delisting," would violate the ESA. Plaintiffs brought this action contending that Section 1713 violates the separation of powers. The district court rejected plaintiffs' claims on the ground that Congress had acted within its constitutional authority to change the laws applicable to pending litigation. The Appeals Court said, "Because this case is controlled by Robertson v. Seattle Audubon Society, 503 U.S. 429 (1992), we affirm."
    The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), one of the parties in the case indicated in a release on the decision, "Congress set a terrible precedent by passing this backdoor rider that took away protection from wolves. Scientists, not politicians, need to decide which species need protection. That's the law. And that's what makes sense if we're going to save animals and plants from extinction." CBD indicated that the rider marked the first time Congress has removed a plant or animal from the endangered species list. The rider directed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reissue a rule removing federal protections from northern Rocky Mountain wolves, despite ongoing litigation over the lawfulness of that delisting rule.

    CBD said, "Today's ruling holds that the rider is constitutional because it amends the Endangered Species Act by exempting the delisting rule from all law. The panel rejected arguments by conservation groups that Congress violated the separation-of-powers doctrine because the rider blocked judicial review and ordered an outcome, in ongoing litigation, without clearly amending the Endangered Species Act, effectively negating the role of the judiciary." CBD said, "We will continue to fight the good fight on behalf of wolves across the country. These incredible animals deserve a shot at recovery beyond just the few pockets where they eke out a living today."

    Access the complete opinion (click here). Access a release from CBD (click here).[#Wildlife, #CA9]

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