9th Circuit Gets One Right

9th Circuit: Judges shouldn’t act as scientists

Associated Press – July 3, 2008 6:04 PM ET

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Eleven members of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it’s improper for federal judges to act as a panel of scientists when weighing in on disputed U.S. Forest Service timber projects.

Timber-industry lobbyists and Forest Service officials called the ruling overturning a challenge to a northern Idaho logging project a landmark, partly because it emerged from a court often seen as favorable to environmental groups.

The judges dumped a July 2007 decision by a panel of 3 9th Circuit judges that halted the Mission Brush project on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

The ruling also overturns a separate 2005 9th Circuit decision where judges concluded the Forest Service’s approval of logging on burned areas of western Montana’s Lolo National Forest was based on an arbitrary and capricious environmental analysis.

Mark Rey, the federal official who oversees the Forest Service, called this “the most important decision involving a Forest Service environmental case in the last two decades,” saying it restores the ability of federal agencies, not meddling judges, to exercise discretion over projects.

Earth Justice, a non-profit environmental law firm, said forecasts of dramatic changes are premature and added agency scientists “still won’t get a free pass to do whatever they want to, and the courts have to accept it.”

Wow! Some sanity from the 9th Circus. You just don’t see that everyday. And you probably wont for quite some time. That was an 11-0 ruling by the way.

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