That was the essence of an extremely detailed legal argument in Molloy's Missoula courtroom Tuesday morning, where the judge must decide whether a Congressional rider last April is allowable.The rider, known as Section 1713, was an 11th hour attachment to a government spending bill, which made an exception for gray wolves in Idaho and Montana, once more knocking the wolves off the Endangered Species List.
However, Alliance for the Wild Rockies and other groups accuse the government of violating the Separation of Powers Doctrine, which dictates the relationship between Congress, the courts and the Executive Branch. They maintain Section 1713 is a case of Congress "directing the court", ordering de-listing even as appeals are still pending of Molloy's August 2010 decision which put the wolves back under ESA.
Alliance Attorney Jay Tutchton asked Molloy to "tell Congress to do it's proper function" by forcing lawmakers to go back and "write it down" by adding more details to the ESA changes instead of allowing a "wholesale amendment". He argued there should be a "predictable change in the underlying law".
But government attorney Andrea Gelatt defended Section 1713, saying Congress had followed the law by "carving a very narrow hole" to allow an amendment of the ESA so wolves in Idaho and Montana could be excluded.
Molloy, who has come under increasing fire by the region's residents after re-instating wolf protection last year, peppered the attorneys with questions. He asked the government how it could defend the use of his August 2010 ruling and yet still be appealing the case at the same time.
No decision was made today, but Molloy said he'd review the briefs and try to issue a decision "as quickly as possible."