Montana Lawmakers Want to Save Supreme Court Ballot Measure

In Montana, a group of voters are trying to strike a measure from the June primary ballot and a group of Republican lawmakers want permission to stop them.
by | January 11, 2012

In Montana, a group of voters are trying to strike a measure from the June 5 primary ballot and a group of Republican lawmakers want permission to stop them, according to the Missoulian.

The ballot measure at issue is Legislative Referendum 119, which would require the state’s seven Supreme Court justices to be elected from seven separate districts rather than anywhere in the state, which is the case now. The seven GOP legislators who want to intervene in the lawsuit each represent one of the seven districts, reports the paper.

"As residents and voters of the proposed seven districts, the intervenors have a substantial interest in the subject matter of this action and should be allowed to intervene," wrote the legislators' lawyer, state Sen. Art Wittich, in a news release. "We have joined to defend against this lawsuit because there is no more important right in a democracy than the right to vote."

The voters trying to remove the ballot measure say that it is an illegal attempt to change the Montana Constitution and that it would unconstitutionally restrict voters' right to choose any candidate for the state's highest court, according to the Billings Gazette. Legal and civil rights groups reportedly opposed the measure because, they argue, it would encourage judicial activism and violate the state constitution.

The seven lawmakers are: Sens. Joe Balyeat, sponsor of the bill; Edward Walker, and Greg Hinkle, and Reps. Mark Blasdel, Ryan Osmundson, Matthew Rosendale, and Kelly Flynn.

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