Montana Public Radio

Montana Supreme Court Blocks Legislative Requests For Internal Communications

Apr 16, 2021

The Montana Supreme Court has blocked several subpoenas filed by legislative Republicans ordering the justices to produce internal communications about pending legislation by Monday.

The Supreme Court Friday also blocked a subpoena that would have required Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin to appear Monday before a special legislative committee investigating judicial conduct, and to turn over her state computer. 

The Supreme Court wrote in its order blocking the subpoenas that it’ll rule on the legislative request for internal documents at a later time. 

The blocked subpoenas are the latest development in an escalating conflict between the legislative and judicial branches. Legislators say they need to investigate whether the justices have pre-judged pending legislation that is likely to be challenged in court. 

Democrats say the Republicans’ actions are an attack on the separation of powers that check and balance state government. House Minority Leader Kim Abbott said Friday it’s a "constitutional crisis."

Republican Sen. Greg Hertz said in a Friday afternoon meeting of the investigative committee that the justices’ order blocking the subpoenas is an extraordinary conflict of interest, and that no one else would have the "audacity" to be the judge in his or her own case.