Montana Public Radio

Laurie McKinnon

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.

The Montana Supreme Court has denied an order asking all seven justices to recuse themselves from hearing a case regarding the state court administrator. It’s the latest development in an ongoing dispute between Republican legislative leaders and the judicial branch. 

Laurie McKinnon is a 2020 candidate for Montana supreme court justice.
courtesy

Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide general election candidates to publish as a resource for our audience. We asked all the statewide candidates to respond to the following questions via email, limiting their answers to 150 words per question. These are their unedited responses.

Laurie McKinnon is a 2020 candidate for Montana supreme court justice.

Update May 28, 2020: This story has been updated to add more context about each candidate. The update also corrects an error in a previous version of this web story that misstated Mike Black has run for the Montana Supreme Court before. Black applied to be appointed to replace a justice leaving the bench.

Three candidates are vying to fill one of the seven seats on Montana’s Supreme Court. The race is non-partisan and the primary will result in the two candidates with the most votes moving onto the general election in November. All three candidates are promoting their legal backgrounds and experience.

There’s a three-way race underway for a seat on the Montana Supreme Court. Each of the candidates are relying on self funding to get their 2020 campaigns off the ground.

Justice Laurie McKinnon, who lives in Helena, is running for reelection after announcing last year she would not seek a second eight-year term on the state high court.

Gavel.
(PD)

The Montana Supreme Court Wednesday struck down a 2015 state law allowing tax credits for donations to private religious schools.

The court’s 5-2 ruling voids the dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $150, which passed, largely along party lines, out of the 2015 Montana Legislature.

Montana Court Overrules Attorney General On Easements

Dec 11, 2018
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.
Montana DOJ

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday overruled Attorney General Tim Fox's legal opinion that the governor can't unilaterally approve large conservation easements and they must instead be authorized by the state Land Board.

Six of the seven justices on the state's high court signed the order siding with Gov. Steve Bullock, who argued that he doesn't need the Land Board's approval because conservation easements aren't land acquisitions. Justice Laurie McKinnon is the only justice who didn't sign.

Councilman Bryan Von Lossberg addresses a rally in favor of a Missoula takeover of the city's drinking water in March of 2015
Josh Burnham

Montana’s Supreme Court yesterday handed the city of Missoula a win in the legal battle to take ownership of the city’s drinking water system.

Donors To 'Dark Money' Group Include Media Mogul, Broker

Dec 21, 2015
Former State Senator Jason Priest.
courtesy Montana Legislature

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Donors to a secretive conservative group accused of breaking Montana's campaign laws to influence the 2012 elections include a media mogul, a famous investment broker and leaders of the energy industry, according to records released Monday by the state.

Outside Money Puts Spotlight On High Court Race

Nov 3, 2014
Jessie Mazur

Campaigns for the Montana’s Supreme Court may be nonpartisan by law, but record spending and aggressive ads by independent groups is making one high court race look anything but.