Montana Public Radio

Montana Supreme Court

Wheat, VanDyke Clash Over Partisanship In Supreme Court Race

Oct 19, 2014
Jessie Mazur

The Montana Supreme Court could have decided one of this year’s election campaigns long before November – a race for a seat on that very court.

In April, a district judge struck Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke’s name from the ballot after ruling he had not been admitted to the bar at least five years prior to the November election.

In the 2014 general election in Montana, perhaps the most interesting statewide race is for a seat on the state supreme court. The winner will make decisions about the constitutional rights of all Montanans.

In this episode of "Home Ground Radio", Brian Kahn sits down with incumbent Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike Wheat. They talk about judicial philosophy, the role of judges, judicial elections, and money in politics.

There are pretty sharp differences in the candidates running for the two Montana Supreme Court seats being contested this fall. They came out at a candidate forum in Missoula on Tuesday.

One of the big issues at the forum was campaign financing, both for this year’s Supreme Court race and for elections in general.

The candidates talked about the 2010 Citizens United case in the US Supreme Court. It allowed unlimited independent corporate spending in federal elections. The high court applied that ruling to state elections in 2012.

Montana Supreme Court Candidates Debate

Sep 24, 2014
Montana Supreme Court
Montana Supreme Court

Montana's Supreme Court candidates faced off Tuesday night in a forum at the University Of Montana Law School. Sitting Justice Mike Wheat is running against former Montana solicitor general Lawrence Van Dyke, and incumbent Justice Jim Rice faces Billings Attorney and Podiatrist David Herbert. Listen to the entire the debate at the link above.

footloosiety/Flickr

A lawsuit concerning a bridge on a county road could lead to major impacts on Montana’s stream access law in a case pitting private property advocates against prominent public access groups.

The state Supreme Court is considering the lawsuit over easements now. Atlanta-based media mogul James Kennedy owns a sizable piece of property on the Ruby River. Several county bridges cross the river on his land and a district court judge found it legal for Kennedy to fence off access to the river on one of those bridges—because of the type of ‘prescriptive easement’ on the bridge.

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