Viewpoint: Historic election for Montana’s judiciary
Judge Jerry Lynch
The future of the State of Montana is in your hands – and those of your family, friends and neighbors who vote in Montana. We must all come together to protect the integrity, independence and effectiveness of Montana’s Supreme Court and Montana’s judicial branch.
A historic election will take place in 2024. Culminating a brilliant career in public service, Chief Justice Mike McGrath recently announced his retirement after 16 years leading Montana’s judicial branch. As a result, Montana voters will have the opportunity to elect a new Chief Justice to lead our judicial branch.
If the past is prologue – and no doubt it will be – Montana voters should expect to be pummeled with negative advertising in support of extremists candidates who act like politicians, not judges. These candidates likely carry personal agendas or are motivated by the influence of dark-money lobbyists and corporations.
Already, these extremists have tried to take over Montana’s highest court. Over the past nine years, they have spent more than $8 million on negative and misleading ads, in most cases attacking well-qualified, impartial justices on the Montana Supreme Court.
My motivating purpose is to protect the 1972 Montana State Constitution. It has withstood the test of time, having been written in a truly non-partisan manner and approved overwhelmingly by Montana voters. The Montana State Constitution protects our rights to privacy, individual dignity, a clean and healthful environment, our agricultural way of life, a no-cost public education and many, many more rights. These Constitutional rights are the result of ordinary citizens banding together to reject a long heritage of puppet politicians and corporate control our State and our resources, and to instead embrace a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” We need to do the same again.
I am a candidate for the Montana Supreme Court because I have the experience, independence, demeanor, and dedication to protect Montana’s Constitution and people. My candidacy is not inspired by personal ambition, nor is it fueled by out-of-state corporate lobbyists and political extremists seeking to control Montana’s future and to undermine our Constitutional rights.
I grew up and worked in Butte. My family, friends and neighbors know in their bones what unfettered corporate exploitation of Montana’s natural resources does to a community, and ultimately to a government. I fought against that exploitation the best way I knew how: public service.
My family and I are proud of my more than 30 years of public service as a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Montana District of the U.S. District Court (2006-2023) and as a law clerk for the Honorable Paul Hatfield. Prior to my public service, I served for 10 years as an attorney in private practice in Great Falls, Montana, where my wife Teri – a public school educator -- and I raised our children. My children are grown now, but my grandchildren aren’t. I couldn’t sit this one out when their futures and the futures of all Montana’s children and grandchildren are at stake.
In this campaign, I am focused on grassroots outreach to individual voters and community leaders throughout Montana. I hope to meet you on the campaign trial and earn your vote. I know that together we can ensure Montana remains the Last Best Place.