Alliance Defending Freedom: It’s days away: The Supreme Court’s marriage decision is expected to come down on June 29.
LifeNews: Attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman did an extensive analysis of the case and concluded it “did not legalize assisted suicide and it continues to carry both criminal and civil liability for any doctor, institution, or lay person involved.” The Montana Lawyer, the official publication of the Montana State Bar concluded the issue is open to argument, confirming that the legislature needs to clarify the issue this coming session.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a complaint Friday with the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction on behalf of a hearing-impaired preschooler denied disability benefits for tuition payments because her parents chose to enroll her in a Columbus faith-based preschool.
Billings Gazette: Republican Tim Fox said Wednesday that he will fight what he called the over-reach of federal government as Montana’s next attorney general after winning the post by a six-point margin over Democrat Pam Bucy.
LifeNews: There are 37 states that require parental notification or permission before a minor can get an abortion. Montana is one of just 13 states without this common-sense policy. However, 70 percent of voters in the state approved Legislative Referendum 120, which takes a step toward solving this problem. LR-120 would require an abortion practitioner to notify a parent of a girl younger than age 16 before performing an abortion.
Religion Clause Blog: While the Presidential contest obviously looms largest at the polls tomorrow, those interested in church-state and religious liberty issues are watching a number of down-ballot issues and contests . . .
LifeNews: While most pro-life Americans are understandably focused on the Presidential election and key Congressional races, citizens in several states will also vote on life-related ballot initiatives on November 6th. Below is a summary of these initiatives, and why they are important.
San Francisco Chronicle: Back-and-forth court decisions striking and reinstating Montana laws that regulate campaign contributions have set this election cycle roiling, resulting in candidates showered by unexpected cash and a flurry of legal challenges ahead of Election Day.
Religion Clause Blog: In Zastrow v. Bullock, (D MT, Oct. 2, 2012), a Montana federal district court entered a permanent injunction with the consent of all parties barring enforcement of a Montana statute, MCA § 13-35-218(2) which provides . . .
Election Law Blog: Wow. See this 5 page order, striking down Montana Code Annotated 13-37-216 in its entirety. The judge did note that plaintiffs did not challenge the aggregate limits on political party contributions in 13-27-218which remains in effect.
The Independent Record: While a federal court says political parties can now endorse nonpartisan judicial candidates in Montana, the two candidates for an open state Supreme Court seat said this week they won’t accept the endorsements — because a state judicial ethics code forbids it.
The Republic: The courts have struck down another Montana election law as unconstitutional. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion Monday that tosses out the state’s ban on political party endorsements of nonpartisan judicial candidates. | Sanders County Republican Cent. Comm. v. Bullock
HSLDA: This summer, homeschool graduate Christina Colster (names changed to protect privacy) received an answer she had waited for her entire senior year: Social Security recognized that she was a homeschooled student and awarded her benefits previously denied.
VerdeNews.com: But attorneys from non-reciprocity states have to take the full-blown, two-day Bar examination. That requires not only extensive preparation — particularly for those who have been out of school for some time — but also waiting to find out if there was a passing score. The lawyers who are suing are from California and Montana, both non-reciprocity states. Also suing is the National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdictional Practice, based in California.
Jay Sekulow at the Church Report: It’s a troubling pattern that we see often. An atheist group is “offended” by a statue or memorial that they consider to be offensive. They file a federal lawsuit to try to get it removed. This time, it’s happened in Montana . . .
KXLF.com: One of those who showed up Monday night at the Veteranns of Foreign Wars in Whitefish was 91-year-old Arnie Funk oh Helena, who made the trip to hear the status of the lawsuit himself. He served in the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division, the same division for which the statue was erected.
NECN.com: The Daily Inter Lake reports ( ) CeCe Heil with the American Center for Law and Justice told those attending a town hall in Whitefish Monday that case law discourages the government from being “hostile” to religion.
AP: The Russian government officials arrived with a Moscow television crew in tow at the gates of a ranch for adopted children in remote northwestern Montana and demanded to be let inside.
The Court issued a short per curiam ruling in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, No. 11-1179 from which Justice Breyer dissents joined by Ginsburg, Sotomayer, and Kagan.
Great Falls Tribune: A Montana couple who say they would have terminated a pregnancy if they had known their daughter would be born with cystic fibrosis can move forward with their lawsuit against their health care providers, a state judge has ruled.
Missoulian: The GOP had held the position seeking to criminalize homosexuality since a 1997 Montana Supreme Court case struck down similar state laws. The party had been criticized in recent years for continuing to maintain the stance.
Elder Law Answers: Only two states have passed laws legalizing assisted suicide in certain limited circumstances. Under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, physicians can prescribe lethal medication that will allow terminally ill individuals to end their lives. There are very specific steps–including waiting periods and release forms–that must be followed before the medication can be prescribed. Washington has a similar law. The law in a third state, Montana, is less clear.
Think Progress: In recent days, state Democratic parties in Montana, Texas, and Pennsylvania have agreed to add marriage equality to their 2012 platforms. Even though same-sex marriage is currently outlawed in all three states, these state Democratic parties have decided that same-sex marriage fully deserves formal recognition on their upcoming agendas.
NBC Montana: New developments are emerging in the fight over the Jesus statue on Big Mountain. The Knights of Columbus, the group that put the statue there nearly 60 years ago, will have their say in court.
Market Watch: It’s a war memorial that has commemorated the valor and sacrifice of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division for more than 50 years. And yesterday, one day after Americans solemnly observed Memorial Day, the Knights of Columbus — represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty — asked to intervene in a pending lawsuit to defend the memorial’s right to exist on public land in Montana.
Helena Independent Record: Haddon ruled that Montana’s filing deadline for independent candidates “imposes a significant barrier to the exercise of rights protected and guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitutional of the United States and is unconstitutional.”
Law.com: Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a federal judge, citing a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, ruled that a state law linking public campaign matching funds in judicial elections to spending by opposing candidates violates the First Amendment.
In September of 2011, a coalition of plaintiffs made up of Montana residents, corporations, political committees and a candidate for the Montana House filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of various Montana laws that regulate political campaigns. In February, federal judge Charles Lovell preliminarily enjoined enforcement of several of the challenged laws, holding that those regulations are likely unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Findlaw: In February, the Supreme Court stayed the Montana decision, (now called American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock), pending a petition for writ of certiorari. Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justice Breyer, issued a statement supporting the stay in light of stare decisis, but expressing an interest in re-examining Citizens United.
AP: State attorneys asked the Montana Supreme Court on Wednesday to reverse a state judge’s decision and impose the 2009 law that requires Hutterite colonies to pay workers’ compensation insurance.
KULR8.com: Six same-sex couples in the state of Montana are getting ready to present their case to the state Supreme Court Friday seeking the same legal rights as married couples. Their case reached the high court after a district judge ruled against them.
Today three corporations asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Montana Supreme Court’s holding that corporations in Montana may be banned from making independent political expenditures by expressly advocate the election or defeat of state candidates.
Billings Gazette: The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider at least three judicial misconduct complaints that have been filed against Montana’s Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull as well as the judge’s own request for a review.
Great Falls Tribune: Human rights groups and several congressional leaders called on Montana Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Thursday to step down in light of the federal judge forwarding a racist email about President Barack Obama to several of his friends
Great Falls Tribune: The parents of a child born with cystic fibrosis have filed a lawsuit against health care providers saying they would have terminated the pregnancy had they known of the genetic disorder.
Challenge to Montana Ban on Ministers’ and Other Group Leaders’ Election-Related Advocacy in Private
Volokh Conspiracy: The law is now being challenged, in Zastrow v. Bullock (D. Mont. filed Feb. 21, 2012). One possible obstacle to the lawsuit is that it’s not clear whether the law is at all being enforced, and, in the absence of a credible threat of enforcement, the lawsuit might be dismissed on standing grounds.
JURIST: The US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday blocked enforcement [order, PDF] of a Montana Supreme Court ruling, which upheld a state law [JURIST report] limiting the amount of money corporations can spend on campaigns, until it can consider an appeal from the corporations challenging the law.
NYTimes.com: In upholding the law, the court ruled that the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which struck down bans on campaign spending by corporations and unions, did not apply because the Montana law was tailored to meet a compelling state interest and any burden on speech was minimal.
Montana Corporations Ask United States Supreme Court to Reverse Montana State Court Ruling Upholding Ban on Corporate Independent Expenditures Despite Citizens United
Today, the political advocacy group American Tradition Partnership, along with two other corporate plaintiffs, Champion Painting and the Montana Shooting Sports Association, have asked Justice Anthony Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court to put on hold and then the Supreme Court to reverse a decision by the Montana Supreme Court, which upheld its law prohibiting corporate independent expenditures despite the decision in Citizens United v. FEC which held such bans unconstitutional.
Freedom From Religion Foundation: FFRF has readied a legal complaint and plans to file it shortly in federal court in Montana. In an official memo released today by the US Forest Service, it announced it will reauthorize a special use permit for the Knights of Columbus to maintain a Jesus shrine in Flathead National Forest for the next decade.
News from The Associated Press: The U.S. Forest Service says it will re-authorize a permit for a 57-year-old statue of Jesus that had been facing eviction from a northwestern Montana ski resort.
The Associated Press: A judge has ruled that Montana’s medical marijuana law doesn’t shield providers of the drug from federal prosecution, delivering a new blow to an industry reeling from a state and federal crackdown.
Montana Corporations Ask Court To Put Its Decision Upholding a Ban on Corporate Independent Expenditures On Hold While U.S. Supreme Court Decides Their Case
Yesterday, the political advocacy group American Tradition Partnership, along with two other corporate plaintiffs, Champion Painting and the Montana Sports Shooting Association, have asked the Montana Supreme Court to not enforce its decision to uphold Montana’s law that bans corporations from independently spending money to support or oppose candidates for public office.
Robin Bravender at POLITICO.com: The conservative group American Tradition Partnership announced plans Thursday to appeal a Montana Supreme Court ruling that upheld a state law banning corporations from spending to directly support or oppose candidates.
NYTimes.com: Hiram Sasser, a lawyer for the Liberty Institute, a conservative legal advocacy group, said that because the ski resort is already leasing much of the mountain from the Forest Service, the federal government has no right to ban the statue merely because some people might not like it.
The Denver Post: Denver-based anti-abortion group that sponsored an unsuccessful personhood amendment in Mississippi — declaring fertilization the starting point of life — is mobilizing again to push a fortified measure in Colorado, Oregon and Montana.
No, physician-assisted suicide is not legal in Montana: Its a recipe for abuse and more | The Montana Lawyer
State Senator Jim Shockley and Margaret Dor at the Montana Lawyer at p. 8 (Nov. 2011): Attorneys Greg Jackson and Matt Bowman provide this analysis: If the idea of suicide itself is suggested to the patient first by the doctor or even by the family, instead of being on the patient’s sole initiative, the situation exceeds “aid in dying” as conceived by the Court. If a particular suicide decision process is anything but “private, civil, and compassionate,” . . . , the Court’s decision wouldn’t guarantee a consent defense. If the patient is less than “conscious,” is unable to “vocalize” his decision, or gets help because he is unable to “self-administer,” or the drug fails and someone helps complete the killing, Baxter would not apply. No doctor can prevent these human contingencies from occurring in a given case . . . in order to make sure that he can later use the consent defense if he is charged with murder. (Analysis of Implications of the Baxter Case on Potential Criminal Liability, Spring 2010, at www.montanansagainstassistedsuicide.org/p/baxter-case-analysis.html)
NECN.com: A Montana judge abdicated his responsibility when he dismissed a lawsuit by six gay couples seeking the same legal benefits as married couples, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday in an appeal to the state’s highest court. | ACLU press release and information page
Daily Inter Lake: A land swap has been proposed to defuse the controversy over a statue of Jesus Christ atop Big Mountain. Congressman Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., is seeking public comment on draft legislation to exchange approximately 625 square feet of land between Whitefish Mountain Resort and the U.S. government.
American Center for Law and Justice ACLJ: In just a few short hours, more people have taken a stand for the war memorial statue of Jesus that sits atop Big Mountain in Montana than the entire membership of the atheist group seeking to have it removed.
Calgary Sun: Normally, it’s Jesus who does the saving. This time though, it’s Canadian tourists being called upon to save Christ — or, rather, a six-decade-old statue of Jesus being threatened by a zero-tolerance atheist group just south of the border.
The State Column:
KXLH.com | Helena, Montana: The Flathead National Forest Supervisor is withdrawing his earlier decision on the Knights of Columbus special-use permit for the statue of Jesus on Big Mountain near Whitefish.
Alan E. Sears: “In Montana, University Officials Fear Religious Activities Mean The ‘Big Sky’ Is Falling”
ADF President and General Counsel Alan E. Sears at the TellADF Blog: It’s almost as if officials at the University of Montana think religious faith is toxic … a kind of spiritual or philosophical asbestos that pollutes whoever breathes the air around it.
Barbara Coombs Lee at the Huffington Post: When legislators convened in Helena in January 2011, they considered two bills related to aid in dying. One would nullify the Court’s ruling and repeal the end-of-life freedom people had come to appreciate. The other itemized the steps to evaluate a request and provided civil and regulatory immunity for following them. Neither bill passed a committee or reached the governor’s desk.
Montana residents Doug Lair and Steve Dogiakos, and American Tradition Partnership PAC want to give a couple hundred dollars in contributions to candidates that they like for the Montana State House. Montana, however, limits their contributions to just $160, which is among the lowest limits in the country. The Lake County Republicans and the Beaverhead County Republicans, meanwhile, just want to make an $800 contribution to Republican candidates running for state office.
OneNewsNow.com: Casey Mattox, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defense Fund, says the student chapter of the Christian Legal Society was being discriminated against, as it was not included in the distribution of student activity fees. (See earlier story) “Every UM student and student group deserves to have their student fees distributed in a manner that complies with the First Amendment and doesn’t favor certain views over others,” contends Mattox.
Indian Country Today Media Network.com: Six students from reservation schools in Poplar, Montana took their lives last year and nearly 20 attempted suicide. The reservation’s Sioux and Assiniboine tribes have declared the situation an emergency—and it is on the rise, according to Indian Health Service statistics, reported the AP.
he University of Montana School of Law has agreed to several reforms to their system of allocating funding to student groups, prompting Christian Legal Society and Alliance Defense Fund attorneys representing the CLS student chapter to withdraw a federal lawsuit.
KAJ18.com: he American Civil Liberties Union is asking the Montana Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision to dismiss a same-sex domestic partnership case.
WSJ.com: Mr. Marbut isn’t basing his pro-gun effort on the Second Amendment, the one that talks about a right to bear arms, but on the 10th, which discusses the limits of federal power. “This is really about states’ rights and federal power rather than gun control,” Mr. Marbut says. There is “an emerging awareness by the people of America that the federal government has gone too far,” he maintains, “and it’s dependent on a really weird interpretation.” He is talking about the 1942 Supreme Court case of Wickard v. Filburn, which looms for him the way the Dred Scott decision denying rights to blacks did to antebellum abolitionists.
AP: A judge on Thursday blocked Montana from prohibiting commercial medical marijuana operations, saying that ban on profits from pot sales will restrict access to patients and deny people the right to seek health care.
The Volokh Conspiracy: Prof. Natelson, long time readers may recall, is no stranger to conflict with his former faculty colleagues. As noted here and here, he fought with the school over his teaching assignments, and some of his colleagues were not happy with his political activities.
EuroClinix.net: The organisation Planned Parenthood is suing the state of Montana because its low-income health insurance program does not provide birth control for teenage girls.
LifeNews: Governor Brian Schweitzer continued his abortion advocacy in Montana on Thursday when he vetoed a bill that would have protected girls and their parents on the issue of abortion on minors.
A District Court Judge in Helena has ruled in favor of the State in a motion to dismiss the same-sex partnership issue in Montana. The ACLU asked the First Judicial Court in January to recognize same-sex couples as domestic partnerships in Montana to guarantee protection of their rights.
AP: epublicans have moved quickly to convert November election gains to legislative advances in the states. A look at some GOP successes, and setbacks, in the first months of the new order . . .