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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

U.S. Supreme Court won't hear Knudsen's case over separation of powers dispute

Montana Capitol, Helena, MT.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio
Montana Capitol, Helena, MT.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied the Montana Attorney General’s request that it take up a case over state lawmakers’ subpoena power.

Attorney General Austin Knudsen petitioned the high court alleging that Montana Supreme Court justices violated the constitutional right to due process and acted in their own self-interest when presiding over the case.

The justices have denied those claims.

The case began as a dispute over power between Republican lawmakers and the state Supreme Court. Lawmakers accused the justices of misconduct and bias, and subpoenaed judicial records.

The state’s high court blocked those subpoenas, and ruled that the lawmakers’ demands overstepped the branch’s authority.

Randy Cox, attorney for Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin, who’s named in the suit, said Monday the state Legislature has now been told “by every court at every level, that its actions were outside the law.”

Kyler Nerison, spokesperson for the attorney general, said the actions of the Montana Supreme Court should “concern every Montanan.”

Republican Sen. Greg Hertz said it’s now up to the state Legislature to fix the “problems within the judicial branch.”

Although the legal case has reached a dead end, the dispute isn’t over. A special committee created by Republicans to investigate the judiciary will meet again in April.

Shaylee began covering state government and politics for Montana Public Radio in August 2020. Originally from Belgrade, Montana, she graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program and previously worked as a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and UM’s Legislative News Service. Please share tips, questions and concerns by emailing 
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