© 2016 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana

With Donald Trump’s upcoming presidency, the people of Montana have been given a golden opportunity for the serious course correction it needs.

One area that could make a huge difference to our future is to petition congress to remove Montana out from under the jurisdiction of the 9th circuit court of appeals and placing it under the 10th district court of appeals instead.

The sad truth is that the 9th Circuit Court has long been bad news for Montana and our water and property rights.  It was this court that gave us the bad decision in the Namen cases during the 70’s and 80’s ruling that the CSKT own the banks and bed of the south half of Flathead Lake, contrary to federal statutes and policy indicating otherwise and contradicting other high court decisions on the same issue.  The 9th circuit court also gave the CSKT “time immemorial” priority date to significant amounts of water on the Flathead Irrigation project for fisheries in the 1980’s.  Leveraging off of that decision, the tribe is now proposing through the water compact to own 100% of the project water, 90% of it for fish and only 10% earmarked for irrigation.  In other words the 9th circuit court of appeals gave the tribe a foot in the door to turn a federal irrigation project that is supposed to be accountable to irrigators, into a fishery that is accountable to the tribes.

The CSKT often uses these bad decisions, repeating out of context sentences and using them to incrementally advance their aggressive agenda to gain jurisdiction and control over non-members and their property using whatever means necessary.  We must never forget that the tribe’s mission statement says: “we will strive to regain control of all lands within our reservation boundaries…”  Keep in mind their definition of their reservation boundaries includes all land, even land that is privately owned.

Unfortunately for Montana, when these important decisions come down from the 9th circuit court, it is difficult to get it heard in the United States Supreme Court.  Petitions for a Writ of Certiorari requesting the Supreme Court to review a lower court’s ruling are denied more often than not. The denial of a Petition for Certiorari by the Supreme Court in a federal case means the decision of the Court of Appeals stands as the final decision.  That is exactly what happened in the cases we’ve mentioned.

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Facts

Did you know that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the most overturned of the Courts of Appeal in the United States?

From Wikipedia:

Headquartered in San Francisco, California, the Ninth Circuit is by far the largest of the thirteen courts of appeals.  In 2010, the population under jurisdiction of this court was 61.7 million people, or 19.74% of the United States Population.  States and territories falling under the 9th Circuit Court include:

Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, North Mariana Islands, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington

What are the odds that a San Francisco based court would share or advocate for any of the same values as Montanans?

Based on 2010 United States Census figures, the population residing in each circuit is as follows.

Circuit Population Percentage of US population
D.C. Circuit 601,723 0.19
1st Circuit 13,970,816 4.47
2nd Circuit 23,577,940 7.54
3rd Circuit 22,498,612 7.19
4th Circuit 29,788,417 9.52
5th Circuit 32,646,230 10.44
6th Circuit 32,105,616 10.26
7th Circuit 25,001,420 7.99
8th Circuit 20,568,237 6.58
9th Circuit 61,742,908 19.74
10th Circuit 17,020,355 5.44
11th Circuit 33,268,699 10.64

It is this California based 9th circuit court whose just plain bad decisions have eroded the Constitution and diminished the  property rights of many in Montana for the benefit of a few.

So What can we do?

With a Donald Trump presidency and control over the house and senate, now is the time to make sure that action is taken.  We may never get another opportunity to divorce our state from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Montana Legislators have been asked to draft a resolution to get Montana out of the 9th Circuit Court, and to send that request to Congress.  We ask you to support that effort and when the time comes, to put pressure on our Congressional delegation to do the right thing.

In addition to working with the legislature on this issue, a petition has been started (12/28/2016) to urge Congress to act and get Montana OUT of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and into the 10th Circuit Court.

Please sign this petition TODAY and send it to everyone on your email list who lives in Montana.  It can be found at this link:


Note:  To sign the petition, you must enter your NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS.  Look carefully because there is a checkbox right below that information that says:  President Obama and the White House may send me emails about this and other issues.  If you’d like to receive email from the white house, leave it checked.  If you prefer to NOT receive email from the White House, you can remove the check mark by clicking on it.

Please sign the petition and pass it along to everyone on your email list.  Let us make sure our voices are heard loud and clear on this issue.

Thanks to all of you for your help.

More Information:  Arizona seeks a divorce from the 9th Circuit Court