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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Senate appoints UM law professor to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

UM Law School

The U.S. Senate Monday voted to confirm a former University of Montana law professor to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Montana’s U.S. Senators split their vote on Anthony Johnstone’s confirmation.

Anthony Johnstone’s confirmation cleared the U.S. Senate Monday on a mostly party line 49-45 vote. Johnstone, a former state solicitor, had the full backing of Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.

“Mr. Johnstone has stood up for our Constitution time and time and time again and I have no doubt that he will continue to do that as a judge,” Tester said.

Montana’s Republican U.S. Senator, Steve Daines, didn’t see it that way and opposed Johnstone’s nomination. In an emailed statement Monday, Daines said he has concerns about comments Johnstone made about court precedent on Second Amendment rights and his views of the southern border.

Montana has one seat on the Ninth Circuit Court which is headquartered in San Francisco. It is by far the largest of the U.S. Courts of Appeals, covering a total of nine states and two territories and with 29 active judgeships.

Johnstone will occupy the court seat vacated by Chief Judge Emeritus Sidney R. Thomas, a fellow graduate of UM’s law school.

O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the University of Montana School of Journalism. His first career job out of school was covering the 1995 Montana Legislature. When the session wrapped up, O’Brien was fortunate enough to land a full-time position at the station as a general assignment reporter. Feel free to drop him a line at
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