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Viewpoint: Retired Judge Ed McLean supports Monica Tranel for Congress

When deciding who to support in this year’s elections, I will vote for candidates who have the qualities and abilities of the best attorneys who appeared in my court when I was a judge. That’s why I will vote for Monica Tranel to represent Montana in the Congress.

Being a good lawyer, and a good representative, requires being a fierce advocate for clients and constituents. Everyone is equal before the law and everyone, regardless of status or income or place in life or the power of opponents, deserves representation and advocacy. Good lawyers are committed to that representation and provide it unstintingly.

That’s what Monica did when she represented everyday Montanans – workers, small businesses, farmers and ranchers, consumers – against powerful corporations, and won. She will take that same urgent commitment to advocate for her constituents to Congress.

Good lawyers know that in order to represent their clients effectively, they have to base their claims on sound and clearheaded arguments, facts and evidence, and of course an appreciation of the laws and the Constitution. They need to write and speak articulately and compellingly. These are all abilities that Monica has displayed throughout her career as a lawyer, and which she will take to Congress.

Lawyers have to be forceful, or even combative, at times, and we have all come to expect that after watching courtroom dramas on television. But the best lawyers also know how to negotiate and to find workable solutions that benefit all the parties in a dispute. They know that all those parties should be treated with civility and respect, and not with hostility and posturing. We need look no farther than the Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to see how now, more than ever, that kind of civility and respect is sorely needed in the United States Congress, and Monica will insist on it.

As a judge, I presided over a centuries’ old process that was designed to resolve, as fairly and sensibly as possible, otherwise intractable conflicts.  At the conclusion of a case, the parties leaving my courtroom were not always happy with the outcome, but they did leave knowing that they had been heard and dealt with fairly. A conflict had been resolved without tearing apart the fabric of society. I firmly believe that we should expect no less when it comes to resolving legislative and political conflicts.

Unfortunately, we have become a deeply and bitterly divided nation that elects a deeply and bitterly divided Congress that entrenches our divisions and fails to unite us. It shouldn’t be that way, it wasn’t always that way, and it doesn’t have to be that way forever.

We can turn it around by electing representatives like Monica Tranel, who has devoted her professional life to serving Montana, who understands Montana, and who will represent Montana in Congress with energy, intelligence, civility, wisdom and integrity. Isn’t it time we sent a Montanan to Congres to represent Montana?

Ed McLean is a retired judge of the Missoula District Court