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Montana advances constitutional amendment to end Supreme Court elections

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

The people of the Treasure State may soon stop electing state Supreme Court justices.


Montana's House Judiciary Committee this week advanced HB 915 - a proposed constitutional amendment that would end elections for Supreme Court justices and leave the process up to appointment by the Governor.


There is not necessarily a right or wrong way for judges to be selected. In fact, there are 25 different selection systems.


Montana, Idaho and Washington are three of just 13 states that elect judges in non-partisan elections.


But elections for judges - specifically Supreme Court justices - have always been uncomfortable for many voters who many times leave the decision blank because of a lack of knowledge about the candidates. A process of appointments would leave the decision with the executive branch, and give voters an opportunity to hold that office holder accountable if they don't like the results.


Constitutional amendments in Montana require a two-thirds vote in both chambers in order to be advanced to voters. If the legislature and voters ultimately decide to approve the change, the last Montana Supreme Court elections would be held in 2024, and gubernatorial appointments would begin in 2025.



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