Molloy denies wolf settlement

Says that the agreement is illegal

Today Montana District Court Judge Donald Molloy denied the settlement agreement put forth by 10 of the 14 environmental groups who sued to keep wolves protected under the Endangered Species Act.  The settling parties had asked the judge to set aside his previous ruling which found that the USFWS 2009 delisting rule was illegal because it split the distinct population segment (DPS) of wolves in the Northern Rockies and left them listed in Wyoming.  The Endangered Species Act does not allow the USFWS to partially delist a DPS.

“[The] District Court is still constrained by the “rule of law.” No matter how useful a course of conduct might be to achieve a certain end, no matter how beneficial or noble the end, the limit of power granted to the District Court must abide by the responsibilities that flow from past political decisions made by the Congress. The law cannot be ignored to accommodate a partial settlement. The rule of law does not afford the District Court the power to decide a legal issue but then at the behest of some of the litigants to reverse course and permit what the Congress has forbidden because some of those interested have sensibly, or for other reasons, decided to lay a dispute to rest.”

Order Denying Indicative Relief Motion

Western Watersheds Project stands firm. Does not join wolf settlement.

The groups that settled have not gained the assurance of anything-

Today’s announcement that a number of plaintiffs in the wolf delisting case are seeking a settlement with the Department of Interior they hope Judge Molloy will approve does represent a difference in strategy how to proceed in the current political environment.

Three groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Western Watersheds and Friends of the Clearwater are standing firm.

Western Watershed’s Executive Director, Jon Marvel, today told me the reasons for the group’s firm stance.

Western Watersheds stresses that this settlement is only with the Department of Interior.  No one, including Senator Jon Tester of Montana, has indicated that in response to the settlement they will withdraw or modify any legislation they have introduced to delist the wolves by law, nor do Secretary of Interior Salazar or President Obama make any promise or even say they oppose such legislation, much less veto it if it passes.

There is nothing in return from this settlement except the promise to keep the scant number of wolves in Utah, Oregon and Washington on the endangered species list.

Western Watersheds believes that having won the case in the first place, the groups should not then ask that the judge approve the violation of the law and his own decision (delisting the NRM wolf by state boundaries).

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Some groups settle on wolf delisting lawsuit; others don’t

Groups pursue different strategies for a variety of reasons-

I suppose there might be different statements from some of the groups. I think the differences were based on differing perceptions of what the future holds in terms of legislation and the worthiness of the Administration’s position of protecting the existing population of wolves.

Personally, I think the idea that there needs to be 5000 wolves is wrong as well as politically unpopular. The existing wolf population of about 1600 is robust and genetically healthy, but both could change.

Settlement offer splits wolves’ supporters; law firm withdraws.  By Eve Byron. Helena Independent Record.

Text of Judge Molloy’s latest wolf decision

Molloy says an “experimental” (10)j wolf population most likely does not exist-

Here is the actual text of the judge’s latest wolf decision.  I think he is also saying a valid 10j population has not existed for some time, although he did not resurrect the argument that the original 10j reintroduction was not proper.  Molloy’s order on experimental wolves

I think he may have cut the Gordian Knot. It is unclear still to me what the effects of this will be — who actually won. Strictly speaking, the government won (I mean on paper).

9th Circuit makes it easier for citizens to temporarily stop a gov’t project

Court of Appeals limits scope of Supreme Court decision and overturns Judge Molloy-

A couple years ago in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council the U. S. Supreme Court continued its trend toward make it harder to temporarily stop government actions before irreparable harm was done. Applying this viewpoint, Montana federal district Judge Molloy let a timber sale begin and many trees were cut while conservationists were seeking an injunction on the sale so that their arguments could be heard.  This made it so if they won, they would not win because the project they sought to halt was completed.  Fortunately, in my view, the 9th Circuit overturned Molloy. This will allow  citizens to more easily get an injunction if they have strong arguments.

The precedent is not simple, but it does strengthen the hand of those opposing government projects from having their cases made moot by letting government build a powerline or whatever while the powerline, etc. is being litigated.

Appeals Court Rejects U.S. Request for Rehearing in Mont. Timber Case. By Lawrence Hurley of Greenwire. New York Times.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy to take “Senior status”

Senior status Reduces Judge Molloy’s caseload

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Montana has announced that he will take “Senior status”.

District Judge Molloy to step aside – Wyoming Tribune

“Senior status” means retirement from active service. Senior judges continue to hear cases, usually with a reduced case load. The announcement, however, said Molloy intends to maintain a “substantial” case load.

It also frees him to sit, by invitation, on the circuit court.

Judge Molloy’s stepping down from his seat will open a vacancy in the Montana federal district court.  Vacancies are filled by appointment from the president, almost always selected by the highest politically ranked congressperson of the president’s party from the state in which the vacancy occurs.

Feds, States and others file appeal on wolf ruling

Federal Government appeals the wolf ruling-

I missed this one but it is important. Everyone knew that the states and many other groups would appeal Judge Molloy’s ruling on wolves but no one was sure whether the Federal Government would appeal the ruling too. Now that question has been answered.

State and others file appeal on wolf ruling.
By Eve Byron – Helena Independent Record