2011 rider to federal budget that delisted wolves faces court hearing July 26

The Tester-Simpson budget rider that interfered with an ongoing lawsuit is before Judge Molloy-

The legal issue in question is not wolves, but whether Congress can constitutionally decide the outcome of a lawsuit. We all know that congress can effectively overturn many court decisions afterwards, but if Jones sues Smith, for example, can Congress constitutionally tell the judge that Smith is supposed to win? That is the actual issue.

Amendment delisting gray wolves faces court challenge Tuesday. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian.

Molloy should make a summary judgment because no facts are in dispute, simply the meaning of the law and the Constitution



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  1. CodyCoyote Avatar

    Can anyone tell us what Judge Molloy’s ” retirement schedule” and remaining docket look like ? What will his promotion to a circuit judge with ” Senior Status” have for an effect on current cases going forward ?

    Is Molloy still the go-to Judge for northern Rockies wolf recovery ?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      This is a guess only. I think he will still be the go to judge on northern rockies wolves, but litigation could well emerge outside of the 3 state reintroduction area that would go elsewhere. Judge Johnson of Wyoming, however, is another possibility because it is possible there could be litigation over Wyoming’s delisting.

      1. CodyCoyote Avatar

        Who is running the NR Wolf program for FWS in the Helena office ( I presume it’s still Helena ) now that Ed Bangs retired ? It seems like a couple of his primary co-workers left also. The reason that Molloy got the lawsuits was the Montana FWS was running the program, and as you note Wyoming is in a different judicial district.

        The wolves may not know or care where the state lines are when they work the country , but the litigants sure do…

      2. Ken Cole Avatar

        The 80-year-old Judge Charles Lovell who heard the bison case came out of retirement to hear it. I don’t know what Molloy’s predilections are but that remains a possibility for him too.

    2. Savebears Avatar

      From my understanding, he will be able to preside over any case he wants to, his retirement to senior status does not diminish his status as a sitting judge.

      1. WM Avatar


        Good to know you are still around. A few conversations here over the last few weeks could have used your steady hand [I won’t go into details, but you can certainly guess the usual suspects who participated. LOL]

        Judicial economy would suggest that Judge Molloy will keep hearing cases about wolves, grizzlies, those insane WS folks, and the irresponsible NPS and FS administrators, for as long as he wants, even while in Senior Judge status.

        Probably not a bad thing either. He has a pretty good record as a jurist, not so often overturned on appeals and is genuinely interested in the topics over which he presides.

  2. Rita K. Sharpe Avatar
    Rita K. Sharpe

    Will the Judge really have his ruling by the end of the Day?

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      Obviously not because he didn’t issue a decision yesterday. These things generally take a long time to decide just like anything else.

      There is a good interview with Jay Tuchton here:


      1. Rita K. Sharpe Avatar
        Rita K. Sharpe

        Thank you,Ken,and thank you for posting the interview with Jay Tuchton.

      2. WM Avatar

        There is a very good chance Molloy had most of his opinion written before the hearing. This is a simple, straightforward one count complaint. Not alot of case law, or evidence to review (in any depth, anyway). The comments by Tester et al., wouldn’t likely even be considered unless the new law itself was ambiguous (at least that is the usual rule of construction – and besides, Tester’s comments don’t really mean alot when the rest of Congress weighs in on the rider with their own respective votes).

        No particularly perplexing questions were posed during the hearing, from the reports coming out. The hearing was just face time for both sides. Tutchton raises nothing new in the interview.

        Judge Molloy will give his ruling fairly quickly. If he waits, it likely won’t be because he hasn’t already made up his mind. Maybe he is sitting in his office, feet propped up on the desk thumbing through a thesaurus looking for other heady terms like “talmudic disagreement” or “stentorian agitprop,” from his last opinion, which add little value to a judicial ruling except to sent the curious running to the Webster’s Dictionary or elsewhere to seek a definition, and confuse the ignorant who cock their heads, and say, “what da hell’s that mean?”


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan