Montana Public Radio

Mike McGrath

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.

Republicans and Democrats on a special legislative committee are at odds over dueling reports summarizing an ongoing investigation into Montana’s judicial branch.

The minority report from Democratic lawmakers refutes GOP claims of alleged judicial bias and misconduct, saying Republican lawmakers and the Republican-led executive branch are trying to smear the judiciary.

Montana GOP Sends Mailer Targeting Supreme Court

May 5, 2021

The Montana GOP has sent out a mailer blasting the Montana Supreme Court and calling for an investigation into the judicial branch. The mailing is Republicans’ latest attack on the judiciary as they press forward with a special committee that Democrats are calling a violation of the constitutional separation of powers.

The Montana Supreme Court will proceed with a full bench to consider a challenge to a new law that allows the governor to appoint judges and justices to court vacancies.

An order filed Tuesday says Judge Matthew Wald from the 22nd judicial district in southeast Montana will substitute for Chief Justice Mike McGrath, who has recused himself after he urged Gov. Greg Gianforte not to sign the legislation.

The court did not order more extensive briefing or oral argument.

'Capitol Talk' is MTPR's weekly legislative analysis program.
Montana Public Radio

The dispute between Republican legislative leadership and the state Supreme Court will likely continue after the legislative session ends. This as Montana joins several states in passing changes to voting laws — and those changes are already being challenged in court. And Friday, lawmakers reached a compromise on how to implement recreational marijuana.

Listen now on Capitol Talk with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

The Session Week 16: Separation Of Powers And The Future Of Colstrip

Apr 19, 2021

As of mid-day Friday, 1,297 bills have been introduced and at least 197 have been signed into law. This week we’re watching a mounting dispute over separation of powers between the Legislature and the Montana Supreme Court. We’re also watching debate on a bill that would incentivize the state’s largest utility to buy more of the Colstrip coal-fired power plant.

'Capitol Talk' is MTPR's weekly legislative analysis program.
Montana Public Radio

COVID leads to the cancellation of floor sessions at the Legislature as the Republican leaders are in a subpoena standoff with the state Supreme Court. All this as a bill to ban abortion dies in the Senate, the governor tries to prohibit "vaccine passports" and a Montanan may become the next head of the Bureau of Land Management.

Listen now on Capitol Talk with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

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.

The Montana Supreme Court will move forward with six justices to consider the constitutionality of a new law that gives the governor more discretion to appoint judges.

The court will have one empty seat on the bench as justices weigh the policy signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte less than a month ago.

A second judge has recused himself from a case before the Montana Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of a new law that gives the governor more discretion to appoint judges.

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