The Reversal Reversed
Not surprisingly, after failing to defend the rule in the Idaho district court, the Department of Justice subsequently failed to file an appeal of the injunction to a higher court. This was left to a consortium of conservation organizations that had been granted intervener status in the proceedings.
On December 12, 2002, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, reversed the order by Judge Lodge of the Idaho U.S. district court, who had placed a preliminary injunction on the Roadless Area Conservation Rule.
The court of appeals found that the law had been followed in the development of the rule, and disagreed strongly with Lodge’s opinion that the plaintiffs were likely to prevail in a final ruling on the matter.
According to the decision:
"[W]e hold that the process abided the general statutory requirements of NEPA and based on the preliminary evidence it cannot be said that plaintiffs have a strong likelihood of success on the merits... Because of its incorrect legal conclusion on prospects of success, the district court proceeded on an incorrect legal premise, applied the wrong standard for injunction, and abused its discretion in issuing a preliminary injunction."