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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Montana Senate Confirms Judge Appointed By Former-Gov. Bullock

After an abnormal delay in voting and a committee rejection, Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Chris Abbott was confirmed by the Montana Senate Thursday. Abbott’s nomination was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee more than a month ago and didn’t see a vote until Thursday morning.

The committee voted to reject Abbott’s nomination. However, when his nomination got to the full Senate floor for debate, it was endorsed. He will continue his judgeship. 

Abbott was appointed to the bench by former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock along with two other judges. Another of Bullock’s appointees was confirmed by the Senate, but the third, Michele Reinhart Levine of Cascade County, was voted off the bench.

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill into law earlier this legislative session that gives him the power to appoint judges directly, without the input of the Judicial Nomination Commission. Gianforte can use that power to appoint a replacement for Reinhart Levine, although the law has been challenged in court.

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.