Legislation would be deeply destructive to Montana’s judicial system | Columnists

Senate Bill 140 is the third and twofold part of the package. It should be made clear that this measure is a vacancy and not a standard election. In the event of an enactment, the Montana Judicial Nomination Commission would be abolished and the appointments for vacancies in the District Court and Supreme Court would be left solely to one person – the governor – who could appoint any lawyer regardless of qualifications, experience, integrity, Record or injunction.

Two of us had the unique experience of serving in the House of Representatives before and after the 1972 Constitutional Convention. Not only did we witness his conscientious impartial craftsmanship (which we could all learn from today), we were also the beneficiaries of his far-reaching vision. Article VII, The Justice, was one of the most thoroughly researched and discussed provisions. Historically, court appointments have not only been controversial, but also the source of some hilarity in Montana’s tumultuous history of the Copper Kings. The 1972 delegates’ balancing act was to ensure a process to produce qualified and honorable candidates while including, but constraining, a full executive.

The delegates therefore enabled the creation of an independent judicial officer nomination commission composed of lawyers, judges and members of the public (chosen by governors) with tiered terms of use to review applicants’ qualifications and submit nominations to the governor for more planned Meeting. The governor makes the judicial appointments but limits himself to the recommendations of the Judicial Nomination Commission.

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