Capitol Ceremony Honors Authors Of Montana’s ‘Transformative’ Constitution
Delegates who helped craft Montana’s 1972 Constitution were recognized at a ceremony at the state Capitol Wednesday. Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer lauded the group for having the foresight to put in place protections Montana has today.
Arlyne Reichert was a widowed mother of five and a research assistant at the McLaughlin Institute in Great Falls when she was elected as a delegate to the 1972 Constitutional Convention.
“I’m just so pleased to still be alive for this. I hope I make it to the 50th reunion. I’ll be 96-and-a-half then,” Reichert said.
Reichert was one of 100 delegates from around the state who helped rewrite Montana’s bill of rights. Six of those delegates were at Wednesday’s events hosted by the Montana Environmental Information Center.
Schweitzer, Montana’s Democratic governor from 2005 to 2013, said at Wednesday’s ceremony that the document was transformative. The state’s first bill of rights was written in 1889.
“That Constitution was written by the Copper Kings, for the Copper Kings. And your Constitution, our Constitution, it recognized a few things. To start with, all the people, all the people ought to be involved in our government,” Schweitzer said.
Mae Nan Ellingson was the youngest delegate elected to the convention. She was 24 years old in 1972. On Wednesday she urged preservation of the protections it enacted.
“Those words in the Constitution, they are only words on paper. And it takes a concerted effort to make these rights real,” Ellingson said.
The Montana Constitution will mark its 50th anniversary since ratification next June.