Alliance For The Wild Rockies v. Salazar

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: 03-14-2012
  • Case #: 11-35661; 11-35670
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Schroeder for the Court; Circuit Judges Reinhardt and Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

Congress does not violate the separation of powers doctrine when it changes the particular law applicable to pending litigation, as long as the amendment does not direct the court to make particular findings of fact or to order certain outcomes.

Plaintiff environmental groups (collectively, “the Alliance”) sought an injunction to prevent the Secretary of the Interior from delisting certain gray wolf populations from Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) safeguards. Authorizing this governmental action was § 1713 of the 2011 Appropriations Act, which the Alliance claimed violated separation of powers. The Alliance appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the government. Previously, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service tried to remove certain gray wolf populations from ESA protections. These attempts were invalidated and led to the “2009 Rule,” which was also struck down as violating the ESA’s prohibition on partial delistings. Congress then codified § 1713 to order the Secretary to “reissue the 2009 rule without regard to the ESA and without judicial review.” The Ninth Circuit observed that Congress had changed the law applicable to the particular action being challenged in the pending suit. Thus, the Court was left to apply the new applicable law to the facts, and was not directed by Congress to ascertain a particular outcome. Such a change constitutes an amendment of the law, changing the substantive law that governs. The Alliance’s argument that § 1713 was a repeal, not an amendment, failed because the meaning and effect of the enactment were clear, especially as to removing administrative proceedings and judicial review. AFFIRMED. Motion for injunction pending appeal DENIED.

Advanced Search