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Montana law group opposes call for special legislative session • Daily Montanan

The Montana State Committee of the American College of Trial Lawyers said it opposes seeking a special session of the Montana Legislature.

Three different groups of Republican lawmakers have called for a special session. One group of lawmakers said they believe the Legislature should meet to address immigration issues and recreational marijuana revenue. Another has called for a special session to allow or convert Montana Supreme Court races to partisanship. They are currently non-partisan. The Montana Freedom Caucus called for a special session to ensure that only Montana residents vote in elections, which is already required by law.

The law group stated in a May 6 press release that it “strongly opposes this request for a special legislative session to consider bills intended to make partisan political bias part of our judicial elections.”

Montana has a history of political cheating in elections, including a nationwide legislative bribery scandal and the 1909 election of copper king William Andrews Clark, which prompted lawmakers in 1912 to pass legislation making judicial elections nonpartisan . However, due to a judiciary that was partisan at the time, the measure was settled in courts and struck from the bench until 1935, when nonpartisan judicial races were finally adopted in the Treasure State.

“Our legislature is partisan by design. Our court is not that,” the committee said. “Montana learned the hard way long ago that partisan judicial elections threaten the independent judiciary on which our democracy depends. This is not the time to forget that lesson.”