Wisconsin

Baldwin Voted to Confirm “Gray Wolf Judges”

Policy

Residents of rural Wisconsin got unwelcome news this week and have Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison), in part, to blame for it.

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling denying the removal of gray wolves from the Endangered Species List. States in the upper Great Lakes states were able to get the Obama Administration in 2011 delist the wolves, allowing individual states the ability to manage their growing numbers. In states such as Wisconsin and Michigan, hunting seasons had been proposed in the hope they would prevent packs of wolves from attacking livestock and other animals.

Unhappy with the administrative action, left-wing environmental groups headed to court where liberal activist judges reversed the action of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This week’s ruling has left the U.S Department of the Interior, the affected states, and others wondering whether to appeal the ruling to the U.S Supreme Court or hope for a legislative correction passed by Congress.

Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Judge Patricia Millett’s opinion Tuesday noted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has the ability to regulate a distinct segment of a federally threatened or endangered species differently from the larger population — as the service did with the delisting of Great Lakes wolves from Endangered Species Act protection in February 2007.

But such an action, Millett wrote, requires a comprehensive evaluation considering the entire protected-species population. And the Fish and Wildlife Service, she wrote, “looked only at the characteristics of the Western Great Lakes segment in a vacuum.”

Because the wolves’ vast loss of historical range throughout the U.S. is a relevant factor in determining the endangered or threatened status of western Great Lakes wolves, and other wolf population segments elsewhere, “the Service’s wholesale failure to address that factor renders the Service’s decision unreasoned, arbitrary and capricious,” wrote Millett, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals bench in June 2013, taking the seat of John Roberts that was vacated in 2005 when he became a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Reaction to the ruling from Wisconsin politicians was nearly universal, with many panning the ruling. None more so than U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau), who is leading the legislative effort to have the wolves de-listed.

“It’s outrageous that activist judges in Washington think they know what’s best for Wisconsin’s ecosystem,” said Congressman Duffy. “Just because wolves might not appear as a problem at environmentalist galas in Washington, they are a very real concern to farmers and ranchers in Wisconsin. Our farmers deserve to be able to protect their livestock, and they should not suffer because of the decisions made by an overreaching federal government a thousand miles away. I urge the Department of the Interior to appeal this decision, and I will continue to fight for legislation that will delist the gray wolf.”

So how exactly is this Tammy Baldwin’s fault? She been outspoken about getting the gray wolf delisted and is working in conjunction with Senator Ron Johnson (R-Oshkosh) to push a bill to delist the wolf through the Senate.

Well it’s because of who these judges were.

On the panel were Judge Patricia Millet, Judge Nina Pillard, and Judge Thomas Griffith. Griffith was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2005. Both Millet and Pillard were appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2013, but the circumstances surrounding their confirmation is something else entirely.

Millet, Pillard, and Judge Robert L. Wilkens were a trio of hyper-liberal judges Democrats desperately wanted on the very important D.C. Circuit which has jurisdiction over federal government agencies. Knowing that this trio could drastically swing the direction of the nation’s 2nd most important court, Senate Republicans did all they could to delay their confirmation including filibustering all three judges.

In response, frustrated Senate Democrats opted to invoke the so-called “Nuclear Option” to overcome the filibusters on the judicial trio. As a result, all three judges (Millett, Pillard, and Wilkens) would go on to be confirmed by a simple majority vote.

Baldwin voted to confirm all three judges in late 2013 after Millett’s nomination was used to essentially “blow up the Senate.” Whether it was her intention or not, Senator Tammy Baldwin helped place two of the three judges on the panel who put a growing wolf population over Wisconsin farmers and landowners wanting to defend their livestock and manage their property.

With Baldwin about to do everything she can to tell rural Wisconsinites she’s “on their side,” can that really be something she can back up when the very judges she’s voting to confirm are doing everything to undermine their way of life.

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