Montana PIRG v. Johnson

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Montana PIRG v. Johnson is a lawsuit brought by Montana PIRG in Montana's U.S. district court against the Montana Secretary of State, Brad Johnson, and the Montana Attorney General, Mike McGrath (Montana), on November 10, 2003.

In this lawsuit, Montana PIRG sought the help of the U.S. court in overturning two ballot measures approved by Montana voters in 2002, Montana C-37 and Montana C-38.

Ballot measures C-37 and C38 were not citizen initiatives, but rather were legislative referrals, proposed by the November 2002 general election ballot by the Montana state legislature in 2001.

C-37 and C-38 changed Montana's distribution requirement, mandating that in order for a ballot measure to be placed on the Montana ballot through collecting signatures of registered voters, a ballot measure proposing a new constitutional amendment must receive the signatures of ten percent of the qualified electors in one-half of the state's counties (C-37) and a ballot measure proposing a new state statute must obtain the signatures of five percent of qualified electors in one-half of the state's counties.

On March 28, 2005, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, agreeing with their argument that C-37 and C-38 violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath subsequently ruled that the federal court's invalidation of C-37 and C-38 on equal protection grounds meant that the prior language of the state's constitutional amendments about distribution requirements for citizen initiatives should be considered to be fully back in force.

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