by Elderidge Nichols
On April 18, 2011, the Montana state legislature passed SB 268 which calls for a referendum vote to determine the future of elections for the Montana Supreme Court. On June 5, 2012, on the 2012 Primary Election Ballot, voters in Montana will determine whether Montana will begin to elect Supreme Court justices by districts.
Although the Montana state senate passed SB 268 the Attorney General’s office and Secretary of State are statutorily obligated to approve of the language of the Statement of Purpose designed to explain the purpose of the referendum. Andrew Huff, Assistant Attorney General of the state of Montana, passed along a copy of the accepted language. The Statement of Purpose reads:
The Montana Supreme Court is composed of seven justices, one of whom is Chief Justice. Under current law, the justices are elected statewide and each Montanan votes for all seven positions. LR-119 would change existing law so that each justice is elected from one of seven districts of approximately equal population, with the Chief Justice then chosen from the seven by majority vote of the justices. Only Montanans living in each district would vote for their district’s justice. Justices must reside in their district when initially elected. Continue reading