James Nelson

God so loved the world, that He didn’t send a committee to save it. (See the Bible being hawked by Trump @ John 3:16).

Unfortunately, this eternal truth is lost on the Legislature.  In pursuit of their authoritarian agenda to marginalize, demonize and control the judiciary in general and the Montana Supreme Court in particular, the Legislature is, or has already, formed a “Special Select Committee On Judicial Reform” (SSCOJR). Why?

Because the Court is doing its job of interpreting the Constitution, upholding the fundamental rights that belong to each Montanan, and holding unconstitutional those laws passed by the Legislature that violate the Constitution. That is, by providing the check and balance that our tripartite system of government demands. (Article III, section 1).

Here’s the problem. There is a boat-load of unconstitutional legislation that has been passed by the Freedom Caucus/Supermajority legislature since 2021; and the political branches are not enjoying a winning track record when these laws are challenged in court.

I make no attempt here to detail all of these challenges here, but consider these as representative:

·       At least four laws that frustrated, suppressed and subverted the peoples’ right to vote (Article II, section 13);

·       The more than two dozen laws passed in the 2023 session that trashed the environment, in the face of the peoples’ fundamental right to a clean and healthful environment (Article II, section 3) and the legislature’s mandatory duty to maintain and improve the environment for this and future generations (Article IX, section 1);

·      The Forward Montana case awarding the prevailing plaintiffs their attorney fees arising out of unconstitutional legislation rammed through at the end of the 2023 session, and the Legislature sucker-punching the public’s Constitutional right to know, (Article V, section 11(3) and Article II, section 9). (This violation was so blatant that the Attorney General chose not to appeal the District Court’s decision.);

·       The legislature’s imposition of a nearly $4,000 fee to file a citizens’ initiative, (Article XIV, section 9);

·       And, finally, the Attorney General’s and the Legislature’s continuing attempts to keep the people from voting on ballot measure 14, which, if passed, would enshrine as a fundamental right women’s guarantee of a pre-viability abortion—a right they now have under the individual privacy guarantee of the Constitution, (Article II, section 10).

In truth, the SSCOJR is just the most recent broadside in the legislature’s jihad against the judicial branch, which started in the 2021 legislative session.

But, make no mistake, this what it’s really all about. There are two institutions among those first attacked by those seeking to impose an authoritarian government on a people: The free press and the courts.

The free press must be eliminated or controlled so that the people are unable to know what the authoritarians are doing and to whom they are doing it. And the courts must likewise be controlled or rendered impotent, because the judiciary is the only bulwark that stands between and protects the peoples’ democracy from the authoritarians’ imposition of fascism.

Montana’s courts, judges and justices, are fair, impartial and independent. The Judicial branch is preforming its constitutional duty to check and balance the legislative and executive branches—which, since 2021, are hell-bent on stripping Montanans of their fundamental rights, which ignore the Constitution and rule of law with impunity, and which wail, whine, scapegoat and, blame when they’re challenged and found wanting.

Ther SSCOJR isn’t about “reform.”

It’s all about marginalizing, demonizing and controlling the courts for doing their job—i.e. holding the Legislature and Executive accountable for not doing theirs.

Think about that in the next election.