“Landmark” 9th Circuit Decision: Judges Shouldn’t Act as Scientists

By Beacon Staff

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

Timber-industry lobbyists immediately called Wednesday’s ruling against a challenge to a logging project in northern Idaho a “landmark decision,” partly because it emerged from a court traditionally seen as favorable to environmental groups challenging projects on federal land.

In their extraordinary en banc decision, the judges overturned a previous 2007 decision by a panel of three 9th Circuit judges that halted the Mission Brush project on the Idaho Panhandle National Forest.

The 9th Circuit judges wrote they wanted to remedy past mistakes the court had made when weighing in on matters of environmental law.