HELENA, Mont. 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.
The provision was inserted by Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho and Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana. The measure marked the first time since the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973 that Congress forcibly removed protections from a plant or animal.
Molloy, who twice blocked attempts to lift federal protections for the predators before Congress' action, did not hide his distaste for the provision.
"The way in which Congress acted in trying to achieve a debatable policy change by attaching a rider to the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011 is a tearing away, an undermining and a disrespect for the fundamental idea of the rule of law," Molloy wrote in his order.