I've often joked that the 9th Circuit is like the Iron Curtain standing in between Montana and the US Supreme Court.

We've seen the story all too often, especially when it comes to lawsuits filed by radical environmental groups to block common sense land and wildlife management. The enviro groups seek out a friendly liberal judge, and the judges act as a blank check for the enviro groups.

The 9th Circuit then upholds the activist judge's decisions. On the rare occasion that the liberal judges in Montana actually rule against the enviro groups, the 9th Circuit is typically quick to overturn it- and all that we here in Montana can do about it is hope that the case might make it to the Supreme Court for a fair hearing.

For the first time in more than three decades, Republican-appointed judges will soon occupy nearly half the seats on the left-leaning 9th Circuit Court of Appeals -- dealing a setback to progressive legal advocates who have long seen the court as a safe bet for favorable rulings.

The radical transformation of the San Francisco-based court is largely the result of President Trump's aggressive push to nominate conservative judges and bypass traditional consultations with Senate Democrats -- a practice that has led to repeated howls of protest from California's two Democratic senators, Kamala Harris and Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein.

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