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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals honors new member at Missoula ceremony

Anthony Johnstone during his nomination hearing for 9th Circuit Court judge, October 12th, 2022.
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
Anthony Johnstone during his nomination hearing for 9th Circuit Court judge, October 12th, 2022.

Judges on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals honored new member Anthony Johnstone at a ceremony in Missoula last Friday.

Before the ceremony, Johnstone and two other Ninth Circuit judges heard arguments in two federal cases before an audience of more than 150 people in a University of Montana theater.

Attendees included at least four Missoula high school classes and UM law students, like first-year Alex Karbowicz.

“I don’t know that they come to Montana very often and it’s cool that we have a Montana judge who’s now on the circuit,” Karbowicz said.

Johnstone was nominated for a lifetime appointment on the Ninth Circuit by President Biden in 2022 and later confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He succeeded Senior Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas who is based in Billings.

The last time the Ninth Circuit held oral arguments in Montana was 2011. The dean of UM’s law school told MTPR that Johnstone played an integral part in bringing the court back to the state.

Bagpipes thundered in UM’s Dennison Theatre to open a ceremony celebrating Johnstone’s confirmation following the arguments. More than a dozen Ninth Circuit judges from around the nation attended.

Speakers included Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath and former Gov. Steve Bullock, both of whom worked with Johnstone earlier in his legal career.

After swearing in, Johnstone spoke about his faith in the legal system.

“My faithfulness, and my impartiality, instead come from the work we do together as lawyers and judges, in briefing, in argument in chambers and in conference, to make the work of the Constitution and Congress real,” Johnstone said.

Johnstone is the fifth judge from Montana to be appointed to the Ninth Circuit.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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