More introduces bill to make Montana's judicial elections partisan

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February 20, 2011

Michael More, sponsor of HB 521

Montana: Representative Michael More (R-Gallatin Gateway) has proposed a ballot measure that would appear on the November 2012 ballot if the Montana State Legislature approves it.[1]

House Bill 521 would require candidates for District Court and the Supreme Court in Montana to run on partisan labels instead of as nonpartisan office seekers as they do now.[1][2]

Representative More stated, “The issue is greater transparency in the judicial branch” and that it would help voters see “the individual biases brought to the bench.”[1] In opposition, Ed Bartlett, representative of the Montana Judges Association and the State Bar of Montana said, "It would take away, or perhaps be contrary to, the independence and impartiality of the district court judges and Supreme Court justices."[2]

According to the American Judicature Society, fourteen states already hold some form of partisan judicial elections, either for all their judicial posts or just certain courts.[2]

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