Montana Public Radio

Judicial Nomination Commission

Montana Capitol
Eric Whitney

Montana’s governor will retain a new power to appoint judges directly to vacant benches without the input of the Judicial Nomination Commission. The Montana Supreme Court upheld the law in a ruling issued Thursday.

Gov. Greg Gianforte is taking public comment on five applicants being considered for a vacant judgeship in Cascade County.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has formed an advisory council to help fill a district court judge vacancy in Cascade County. This is the executive’s first opportunity to fill a vacancy directly under a law currently being challenged in court.

The council will help identify and review candidates to fill the Eighth Judicial District seat, which has been vacant since the GOP-led Montana Senate rejected former Gov. Steve Bullock’s appointee last month.

The council includes attorneys, a former judge and local community leaders.

A gavel and scale of justice.
iStock

A bill passed by the state Legislature's Republican majority is now leading to debate over the separation of powers between the branches of Montana’s government.

The bill that eliminates the Judicial Nomination Commission and allows governors to directly appoint judges to certain vacancies was signed into law by Gov. Greg Gianforte last month. Montana State News Bureau reporter Seaborn Larson updates MTPR’s Shaylee Ragar on the latest developments.

Voters in Clinton, Montana, cast ballots during the 2016 elections.
Rebekah Welch / UM School of Journalism

Montana lawmakers voted down a bill Tuesday that would have made judicial elections partisan. It was just one of several policy changes aimed at changing how judges get to the bench that legislators are considering this session.