Montana Public Radio

Montana Supreme Court Won't Consider Bill Reforming Judiciary Nomination Commission

May 7, 2021
Originally published on May 6, 2021 7:32 pm

The Montana Supreme Court has denied a request to consider the legality of a bill that would increase the governor’s influence over judicial nominations. The policy is a back-up option advanced by Republicans in case the court strikes down a separate law giving the governor more power to fill judicial vacancies directly.

The state Supreme Court rejected the request that came from the same bipartisan group that’s asking the high court to undo the new law giving the governor power to appoint judicial vacancies directly.

As the fate of that law hinges on a decision from the court, the back-up policy is sitting on Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk. If it becomes law, the bill would add eight governor-appointed members to the seven-person Judicial Nomination Commission.

It was introduced in the Legislature 12 days after a legal challenge was brought to its predecessor.

In a court filing, the group seeking to strike down the policy wrote lawmakers skirted legislative procedures to consider the back-up bill after a key deadline had passed.

The state Supreme Court declined to pick up the case saying it cannot weigh constitutionality of a bill that is not yet law.

Kevin Trevellyan is Yellowstone Public Radio’s Report for America statehouse reporter.

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