A tax bill to estimate the cost of the decision, which is usually made for bills that require government funds, was not available on Thursday.
Former Republican and Democratic officials, along with Vernon Finley of the Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Montana League of Women Voters, petitioned the Montana Supreme Court in March for Senate Bill 140 to be constitutional. The bill ended the Judicial Nomination Commission who previously compiled a list of candidates to be presented to the governor for appointment to open positions in the District Court and Supreme Court.
During the legislative process, supporters of SB 140, including the governor’s office, called the commission’s impartiality “fiction” and said its members were liberal. Opponents of SB 140, which included Democrats, lawyers and the judiciary, said it was a “takeover” to allow the governor to select judges.
As the legislature and executive prepare to join forces on the case, these officials have already attacked the impartiality of the judiciary, based on an internal judge poll asking for support or opposition to SB 140. Earlier this week, the Montana Justice Department compared the Supreme Court for Bank Robbers for allowing Silver Bow District Court judge Kurt Krueger to be appointed Supreme Justice on the case after he polled an opinion against the bill had given up; Krueger backed off after his poll was revealed in court documents by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.