Laws on trial

Multiple legal challenges have been filed against measures passed by the 2021 Montana Legislature. Here’s where each case stands.

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Last updated 3:08 PM Dec 1, 2022
By Eric Dietrich & the MTFP staff

Montana’s historic 2021 legislative session, the first since 2003 with Republicans in control of both the Legislature and the governor’s office, produced a wave of new conservative laws on politically fraught topics including gun rights, abortion access and voting regulations. Opponents have begun to challenge those measures in court, giving the state’s judicial branch the chance to weigh arguments about whether the new laws violate the Montana Constitution.

The litigation comes as Republicans have alleged liberal bias in the state judiciary and established a legislative committee to investigate judicial conduct — an effort that has spun into its own batch of legal proceedings.

As these cases work their way through the courts, Montana Free Press will keep track of which bills are being challenged and the status of specific cases. We plan to update this guide periodically. We welcome questions or suggestions at tips@montanafreepress.org.

Challenges to 2021 bills

Cases seeking to nullify laws or proposed voter referendums passed by the 2021 Legislature.
TapClick a case for more information. Full legal filings are linked inside case dockets where available (some filings may not be available while MTFP waits on records requests).

Montana Supreme Court

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B. Brown et al. v. G. Gianforte (OP-21-0125)
Challenges law allowing the governor to fill judicial vacancies directly, abolishing the Judicial Nomination Commission established in 1972. The challenge to SB 140 became tangled with a broader conflict between the legislative and judicial branches. 22 major legal filings, last on June 10.
Law upheld
Bill challenged: SB 140
Plaintiffs
Bob Brown, Dorothy Bradley, Vernon Finley, Mae Nan Ellingson, and the Montana League of Women Voters
Defendants
Governor Greg Gianforte, Montana Legislature
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Related coverage

Montana Free Press
12/21/21
Montana Free Press
4/20/21

Major legal filings

3/17/21Petition for Original Jurisdiction filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing asking the court to declare SB 140 unconstitutional
3/24/21Substitution Order filed by the court
Replaces recused Chief Justice Mike McGrath with District Court Judge Kurt Krueger
Asks for Krueger's recusal, citing Krueger's opposition to SB 140 in an internal judicial branch poll. Also requests a stay of the proceedings "until such time as the Court can seat an impartial and independent judicial panel to decide this case"
4/2/21Recusal Notice filed by District Court Judge Kurt Krueger
4/2/21Petitioner's Response filed by plaintiffs
Opposes a stay of the proceedings
4/7/21Order RE Disqualifications filed by the court
Declines to stay the proceedings, saying no Supreme Court justices participated in the poll
4/11/21Emergency Motion to Quash Subpoena filed by Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin
Request to block legislative subpoena for judicial emails
4/11/21Temporary Order Quashing Subpoenas filed by the court
Temporarily quashes legislative subpoena pending further legal argument
4/12/21Motion to Strike filed by defendants
Asks court to throw out Court Administrator McLaughlin's motions
4/14/21Amicus Brief from Mountain States Legal Foundation filed by a third party
Third-party legal arguments on SB 140's constitutionality
Third-party legal arguments on SB 140's constitutionality
4/14/21Response to Petition for Original Jurisdiction filed by defendants
Response to legal arguments raised in initial petition
4/15/21Emergency Motion to Quash Revised Legislative Subpoena filed by Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin
Asks court to throw out revised legislative subpoena
4/16/21Updated Motion to Strike filed by defendants
Asks court to throw out the motion to quash the revised legislative subpoena
4/16/21Order Quashing Subpoena filed by the court
Temporarily quashes legislative subpoena pending further legal argument
4/16/21Response in Opposition to Second Emergency Motion to Quash filed by Montana Legislature
4/23/21Notice to Court filed by defendants
5/5/21Petitioners' Motion to Amend Petition filed by plaintiffs
Attempts to add a challenge to the constitutionality of SB 402 to the case
5/6/21Order Denying Amended Petition filed by the court
Denies attempt to add challenge to SB 402 to the case
5/10/21Petitioners' Reply Brief filed by plaintiffs
Legal arguments against SB 140
6/10/21Opinion filed by the court
The Supreme Court’s official 6-1 ruling that SB 140 is constitutional, upholding the law against plaintiffs’ legal challenge
6/10/21Opinion Synopsis filed by the court
Brief summary of the Court’s ruling
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Board of Regents v. A. Knudsen (OP-21-0246)
Challenges law that allows firearm possession on campuses 2 major legal filings, last on May 26.
Dismissed for litigation in lower court
Bill challenged: HB 102
Plaintiffs
Montana Board of Regents
Defendants
State of Montana, Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

5/20/21Petition for Original Jurisdiction filed by plaintiffs
Asks the Montana Supreme Court to take up the case
5/26/21Order to Dismiss filed by the court
Dismisses the case, saying a lower court is the appropriate venue
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S. Barrett et al. v. G. Gianforte (OP-21-0247)
Challenges campus carry law and others 2 major legal filings, last on May 26.
Dismissed for litigation in lower court
Bills challenged: HB 102, HB 112, HB 349, SB 319
Plaintiffs
Steve Barrett, Robert Knight, Montana Federation of Public Employees, Lawrence Pettit, Montana University System Faculty Association Representatives, Montana State University Faculty Senate, Joy Honea, Annjeanette Belcourt, Franke Wilmer, Montana Public Interest Research Group, Ashley Phelan, Joseph Knappenberger, and Nicole Bondurant
Defendants
State of Montana, Governor Greg Gianforte
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

5/20/21Petition for Original Jurisdiction filed by plaintiffs
Asks the Montana Supreme Court to take up the case
5/26/21Order to Dismiss filed by the court
Dismisses the case, saying a lower court is the appropriate venue
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Winter et al. v. 1st Judicial District (OP-21-0334)
Asks Montana Supreme Court to take Winter et al. v. Montana over from a lower state court in Lewis & Clark County and declare judicial appointment law SB 140 unconstitutional 2 major legal filings, last on July 20.
Dismissed
Bill challenged: SB 140
Plaintiffs
Thomas Winter, Barbara Bessette
Defendants
Montana First Judicial District Court, Judge Mike McMahon
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Related coverage

Major legal filings

7/9/21Petition for Writ of Supervisory Control filed by plaintiffs
Asks the Montana Supreme Court to take over the case
7/20/21Order to Dismiss filed by the court
Declines to take over the case and dismisses this proceeding
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Jacobsen v. 2nd Judicial District (OP-21-0382)
Appeals denial of motion to replace judge Kurt Kreuger in 2-DV-21-0120 in Silver Bow County District Court, which challenges a proposed voter referendum on electing Montana Supreme Court justices by district. A unanimous supreme court reversed the decision. 5 major legal filings, last on November 3.
Decided
Bill challenged: HB 325
Plaintiffs
Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen
Defendants
Second Judicial District
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Related coverage

Major legal filings

8/4/21Notice of Appeal filed by plaintiffs
9/10/21Appeal Brief filed by plaintiffs
9/21/21Answer Brief filed by underlying case plaintiffs
9/21/21Appellant Reply Brief filed by plaintiffs
11/3/21Opinion filed by the court
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Montana Shooting Sports v. 1st Judicial District (OP-21-0377)
Appeals lower court’s decision to deny intervenor status to the Montana Shooting Sports Association in 1-DV-21-0598, which challenges a campus carry law. 5 major legal filings, last on September 29.
Dismissed with appeal denied
Bill challenged: HB 102
Plaintiffs
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Defendants
First Judicial District
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

8/3/21Petition for Writ of Supervisory Control filed by plaintiffs
8/9/21Order filed by the Court
Accepts the appeal and requests responses from other parties in the underlying case
9/8/21Response filed by Montana Attorney General
Urges the state supreme court to grant the shooting sports association’s request to intervene in the district court lawsuit
9/8/21Response filed by Montana Board of Regents
Urges the state supreme court to deny the shooting sports association’s appeal
9/29/21Dismissal Order filed by the court
Denies the appeal
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Planned Parenthood et al. v 13th Judicial District (OP-21-0494)
Emergency appeal effort intended to keep four anti-abortion laws being challenged in Planned Parenthood et al. v. Montana, 13-DV-21-0999, from taking effect after a judge who had been weighing a stay was forced to remove himself from the case at the last minute. The appeal was dismissed and a lower court stay was issued by a new judge. 4 major legal filings, last on September 30.
Dismissed
Bills challenged: HB 136, HB 171, HB 140, HB 229
Plaintiffs
Planned Parenthood of Montana, Joey Banks, M.D.
Defendants
Thirteenth Judicial District
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

9/30/21Petition for Writ of Supervisory Control filed by plaintiffs
Asks the Montana Supreme Court to take up the case
9/30/21Notice of Order filed by defendants
9/30/21Dismissal Order filed by the court
Dismisses the appeal, noting a new lower-court judge has assumed the case
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Planned Parenthood et al. v Montana (DA-21-0521)
Effort by the state to appeal a lower court ruling keeping anti-abortion laws from taking effect while a case challenging them proceeds. That case is Planned Parenthood et al. v. Montana, 13-DV-21-0999. Appeal was denied Aug. 9, 2021 13 major legal filings, last on August 9.
Decided — preliminary injunction upheld
Bills challenged: HB 136, HB 171, HB 140, HB 229
Plaintiffs
State of Montana
Defendants
Planned Parenthood of Montana, Joey Banks, M.D.
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

10/19/21Notice of Appeal filed by appeal plaintiffs
Asks the Montana Supreme Court to take up the case
1/20/22Appeal Brief filed by appeal plaintiffs
3/24/22Amicus Brief filed by third-parties involved in anti-domestic violence advocacy
3/24/22Amicus Brief filed by third-parties Center for Reproductive Rights, ACLU of Montana Foundation and National Women’s Law Center
3/24/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party 1972 Constitutional Convention delegates
3/24/22Answer Brief filed by appeal defendants
Response to case for appeal
3/28/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists et al.
4/15/22Reply Brief filed by appeal plaintiffs
6/27/22Notice of Supplemental Authority filed by appeal plaintiffs
Notes the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade
8/2/22Motion for Supplemental Briefing filed by Gov. Greg Gianforte
Requests that the governor be allowed to put additional arguments before the court in light of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
8/8/22Response Opposing Motions for Supplemental Briefing filed by appeal defendants
8/9/22Opinion filed by the court
Denies appeal, upholding a lower court ruling that keeps anti-abortion laws from taking effect while a challenge to them is litigated.
Denies supplemental briefing request, saying it was filed after the case had been fully briefed and submitted to justices for deliberations.
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Board of Regents v. Montana (DA-21-0605)
Appeal of ruling for university system in challenge to campus carry law. Decided in favor of university system. 13 major legal filings, last on June 29.
Decided
Bill challenged: HB 102
Plaintiffs
State of Montana
Defendants
Montana Board of Regents
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

11/30/21Notice of Appeal filed by plaintiffs
Asks the Montana Supreme Court to take up the case
2/10/22Opening Brief filed by appellants, via Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Legal arguments backing the appeal
2/11/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party Daniels County
2/17/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party Rep. Seth Berglee
Brief submitted by bill sponsor
2/18/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party Montana Shooting Sports Association
2/18/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party Western Montana Fish & Game Association, Inc.
2/28/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party Montana legislators
Brief co-signed by 81 Republican legislators, including Berglee
3/7/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party Second Amendment Foundation et al.
3/14/22Reply Brief filed by defendant Board of Regents
3/21/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party Associated Students of the University of Montana
3/21/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party university stakeholders
3/28/22Reply Brief filed by appellants, via Attorney General Austin Knudsen
6/29/22Opinion filed by the court
Denies appeal, finding that the Board of Regents maintains the power to regulate firearm possession on Montana college campuses
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Netzer Law Office v. Montana (DA-22-0109)
Appeals lower-court decision that denied plaintiffs’ request to block a law preventing discrimination based on vaccine status while litigation in the lower court case proceeds. 5 major legal filings, last on November 16.
Decided - Preliminary Injunction Denial Upheld
Bill challenged: HB 702
Plaintiffs
Netzer Law Office, Donald Netzer
Defendants
State of Montana, Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Montana Commissioner of Labor and Industry Laurie Esau
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

3/3/22Notice of Appeal filed by appellants
5/26/22Appellant’s Opening Brief filed by appellants
7/25/22State’s Response Brief filed by state attorneys
8/26/22Appellant’s Reply Brief filed by appellants
11/16/22Opinion filed by the Court
Denies plaintiff/appellants’ request to overturn the lower court decisions the refused to place a stay on the law while litigation the lower court case proceeds.
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Montana Democratic Party et al. v. Jacobsen (DA-22-0172)
Appeals decision blocking new election administration regulations while lower-court litigation challenging them proceeds in 13-DV-21-0451. 15 major legal filings, last on June 29.
Decided — preliminary injunction upheld
Bills challenged: HB 176, SB 169, HB 530, HB 506
Plaintiffs
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen
Defendants
Montana Democratic Party et al.
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

4/7/22Notice of Appeal filed by plaintiffs
4/27/22Motion to Stay filed by appellants
Asks justices to block a lower-court order that reinstated election-day voter registration and limited voter ID requirements for the 2022 election cycle.
5/9/22Response to Motion to Stay filed by Montana Democratic Party plaintiffs
5/9/22Response to Motion to Stay filed by Western Native Voice plaintiffs
5/9/22Response to Motion to Stay filed by Youth plaintiffs
5/16/22Amended Notice of Appeal filed by appellants
Notes lower court order has modified the scope of the injunction on the disputed laws.
5/16/22Opening Brief filed by appellants
5/17/22Order filed by the court
Overrules the lower-court ruling, unblocking the new laws preventing same-day voter registration and tightening voter ID requirements.
Allows third-party group to make legal arguments in the case.
6/9/22Amicus Brief filed by Restoring Integrity & Trust in Elections
6/15/22Appeal Response filed by Montana Democratic Party plaintiffs
6/15/22Appeal Response filed by Western Native Voice plaintiffs
6/15/22Appeal Response filed by Youth plaintiffs
6/29/22Appeal reply brief filed by appellants
6/29/22Opinion filed by the Court
Reinstates the lower court’s temporary block on the election laws while litigation there moves forward.
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McDonald et al v. Jacobsen (DA-22-0229)
Appeals lower-court decision blocking a legislative referendum that would have had Montana voters decide on switching state supreme court elections to a district-based system. Justices upheld the lower-court decision, keeping the referendum off the 2022 ballot. 8 major legal filings, last on August 12.
Decided — referendum blocked
Bill challenged: HB 325
Plaintiffs
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen
Defendants
Sister Mary Jo McDonald, Lori Maloney, Fritz Daily, Bob Brown, Dorothy Bradley, Vernon Finley, Mae Nan Ellingson and the League of Women Voters of Montana
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

5/5/22Notice of Appeal filed by appellants
5/5/22Motion for Judicial Disqualification filed by appellants
Argues that all supreme court justices should recuse themselves from the case because the underlying proposal affects how they would run for re-election.
6/9/22Appeal brief filed by appellants
Indicates supreme court justices won’t recuse themselves from the case
6/29/22Appeal response filed by appeal defendants (underlying case plaintiffs)
7/6/22Reply brief filed by appellants
8/12/22Opinion filed by the court
Affirms lower-court ruling, keeping proposed amendment from appearing on the ballot.
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Montana et al. v. Thirteenth Judicial District Court (OP-22-0552)
Appeals lower-court decision ordering the state health department to accept applications from transgender Montanans looking to update the sex listed on their birth certificate while a case challenging a law that would make such action more difficult proceeds. 3 major legal filings, last on September 29.
Pending
Bill challenged: SB 280
Plaintiffs
State of Montana
Defendants
Amelia Marquez, John Doe
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

9/23/22Petition for Writ of Supervisory Control filed by appellants
Asks the Montana Supreme Court to take up the appeal
9/29/22Order for Summary Response filed by the Court
Asks plaintiffs suing the state in the underlying case to file a response to the request for the Montana Supreme Court to take up the appeal.
9/29/22Summary Response filed by underlying case plaintiffs
Argues the Montana Supreme Court shouldn’t take up the appeal.
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Barrett et al. v. Montana (DA-22-0586)
Appeals Gallatin County District Court decision in 18-DV-21-0581 that declared portions of four laws were unconstitutional as they pertained to higher education. 1 major legal filing, last on October 13.
Pending
Bills challenged: HB 102, HB 112, HB 349, SB 319
Plaintiffs
Steve Barrett, Robert Knight, Montana Federation of Public Employees, Lawrence Pettit, Montana University System Faculty Association Representatives, Montana State University Faculty Senate, Joy Honea, Annjeanette Belcourt, Franke Wilmer, Montana Public Interest Research Group, Ashley Phelan, Joseph Knappenberger, Nicole Bondurant, Mae Nan Ellingson
Defendants
State of Montana, Gov. Greg Gianforte, Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

10/13/22Notice of Appeal filed by appellants
Asks the Montana Supreme Court to take up the appeal
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Montana Democratic Party et al. v. Jacobsen (DA-22-0667)
Appeals Yellowstone County District Court decision in 13-DV-21-0451 that struck down four election administration laws. 1 major legal filing, last on November 22.
Pending
Bills challenged: HB 176, HB 169, HB 530, SB 506
Plaintiffs
Montana Democratic Party and Mitch Bohn; Montana Native Vote, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Fort Belknap Indian Community, and Northern Cheyenne Tribe; Montana Youth Action, Forward Montana Foundation, and Montana Public Interest Research Group Research Group, Ashley Phelan, Joseph Knappenberger, Nicole Bondurant, Mae Nan Ellingson
Defendants
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

11/22/22Notice of Appeal filed by appellants
Asks the Montana Supreme Court to take up the appeal

Lewis & Clark County District Court

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Board of Regents v. Montana (1-DV-21-0598)
Lawsuit challenging campus carry bill, refiled in district court. A ruling in favor of the university system is being appealed to the Montana Supreme Court. 40 major legal filings, last on November 30.
Decided – appealed
Bill challenged: HB 102
Plaintiffs
Montana Board of Regents
Defendants
State of Montana, via Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Judge
Michael McMahon

Major legal filings

5/27/21Petition for Declaratory Relief filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that initiate the lawsuit
5/27/21Brief in Support of Temporary Restraining Order filed by plaintiffs
Argues for temporarily keeping the constitutional carry on campuses law from taking effect while the court decides whether to to delay for the full period it take to resolve the lawsuit
5/27/21Temporary Restraining Order filed by the court
Temporarily blocks the law
6/4/21Brief in Opposition to Preliminary Injunction filed by defendant
Argues against delaying the law for the full duration of litigation
6/7/21Motion to Intervene filed by third-party David Diacon
Notice of a Montana citizen seeking to intervene in the case
6/7/21Petition of Intervenor filed by third-party David Diacon
Argument for allowing third-party citizen to intervene
6/7/21Brief in Support of Motion to Intervene filed by third-party David Diacon
More argument for allowing third-party citizen to intervene
6/7/21Brief in Opposition to Preliminary Injunction filed by defendant
Argues against extending the temporary restraining order to a preliminary injunction
Extends the order keeping the campus carry law from taking effect while litigation proceeds
6/8/21Motion to Intervene filed by third-party Montana Shooting Sports Association
6/8/21Brief in Support of Motion to Intervene filed by third-party Montana Shooting Sports Association
6/22/21Response to Motions to Intervene filed by defendant
Supports third-party efforts intervene in case
6/24/21Brief Opposing Motions to Intervene filed by plaintiffs
Opposes third-party efforts intervene in the case
6/30/21Supplemental Response to Motions to Intervene filed by defendant
7/2/21Reply Brief to Brief Opposing Motions to Intervene filed by third-party David Diacon
7/8/21Answer filed by defendants
Legal arguments defending the law
7/15/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Intervene filed by third-party Montana Shooting Sports Association
7/16/21Order Denying Intervention Motions filed by the court
Rules Diacon and the Montana Shooting Sports Association don’t need to be involved in the case as formal intervenors
8/20/21Motion for Rule 60 Relief filed by defendants
Asks the court to reconsider portions of its July 16 order
8/20/21Brief Supporting Motion for Rule 60 Relief filed by defendants
9/7/21Response to Rule 60 Motion filed by plaintiffs
Board of Regents’ response to the Montana Shooting Sports Association’s effort to appeal the district court’s denial of its effort to intervene in the case to the Montana Supreme Court in OP-21-0377.
Board of Regents’ response to the Montana Shooting Sports Association’s effort to appeal the district court’s denial of its effort to intervene in the case to the Montana Supreme Court in OP-21-0377.
9/15/21Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendant
9/15/21Brief for Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendant
9/21/21Motion for Leave for Daniels County to Participate as Amicus Curiae filed by third-party Daniels County
Requests permission for Daniels County to submit a ‘friend of the court’ brief
9/21/21Daniels County Amicus Curiae Brief filed by third-party Daniels County
9/22/21David Diacon Amicus Curiae Brief filed by third-party David Diacon
‘Friend of the court’ brief submitted by David Diacon
9/24/21Reply in Support of Motion for Rule 60 Relief filed by defendant
9/29/21Order Denying Petition for Writ of Supervisory Control filed by Montana Supreme Court
Denies effort to appeal over granting the Montana Shooting Sports Association intervenor status
9/29/21Order Denying Rule 60 Motion filed by the court
10/15/21Motion for Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
11/30/21Order for Summary Judgment filed by the court
Rules in favor of the Board of Regents, finding that provisions of HB 102 are unconstitutional as applied to the state higher ed system and permanently bars the law from being enforced on campuses.
11/30/21Notice of Appeal filed by defendants
Indicates Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen is appealing the summary judgment order to the Montana Supreme Court in case DA-21-0605.
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Forward Montana v. Montana (1-DV-21-0611)
Challenges constitutionality of the legislative process that passed a campaign finance bill with significant provisions added at the last minute 40 major legal filings, last on September 16.
Decided – parts of law overturned
Bill challenged: SB 319
Plaintiffs
Forward Montana, Lewis & Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher, Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Alexander Blewett III, Larrry Anderson, Maxon Davis, Gary Zadick
Defendants
State of Montana, via Governor Greg Gianforte
Judge
Mike Menahan

Major legal filings

6/1/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the lawsuit
6/4/21Application for Preliminary Injunction filed by plaintiffs
Asks judge to keep challenged law from taking effect while litigation proceeds
Arguments for preliminary injunction
6/14/21Recusal Notice filed by the court
Has Judge Kathy Seeley assume jurisdiction over the case as Judge Michael McMahon recuses himself.
6/14/21Substitution Motion filed by defendants
Requests a judge other than Seeley be assigned to the case
6/17/21Judge Menahan assumes case filed by the court
Swaps in Mike Menahan for Kathy Seeley as presiding judge
6/21/21Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by defendants
6/29/21Show Cause Hearing filed by the court
Oral arguments before judge, who says he’ll issue a preliminary injunction
7/1/21Preliminary Injunction Order filed by the court
Written judicial order preventing law from taking effect while litigation proceeds
8/4/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
8/4/21Brief for Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
8/18/21Brief Opposing Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiffs
8/18/21Motion for Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
9/7/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
9/7/21Motion to Stay Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
Asks the court to hold off on ruling on summary judgment motion until after ruling on pending motion to dismiss
9/7/21Affidavit of Patrick Risken filed by defendants
9/8/21Errata Motion filed by defendants
Argues the court can rule on motion to dismiss and make summary judgement at the same time
10/6/21Order Denying Motion to Dismiss filed by the court
10/29/21Motion for Protective Order filed by plaintiffs
Asks the court to stay 25 hours of depositions requested by state attorneys
10/29/21Brief for Motion for Protective Order filed by plaintiffs
11/10/21Order on Motion to Stay Discovery filed by the court
Orders a pause on discovery until the court rules on the motion for a protective order.
11/17/21State’s Answer to Amended Complaint filed by defendants
11/17/21Brief Opposing Motion for Protective Order filed by defendants
12/7/21Order Granting Motion for Protective Order filed by the court
12/22/21Response Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
Affidavit by defense attorney for purpose of entering exhibits into case record
1/3/22Affidavit of Amara Reese-Hansell filed by plaintiffs
Statement by Forward Montana program director supporting plaintiffs’ position
Argues affidavit of Amara Reese-Hansell injects new facts into evidence at an inappropriate time procedurally.
1/13/22Brief for Motion to Strike Affidavit filed by plaintiffs
1/25/22Minute Entry filed by the court
Indicates court granted the State’s motion to strike Reese-Hansell affidavit
2/3/22Order on Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the court
Rules in favor of plaintiffs, finding that the bill unconstitutionally included two provisions unrelated to its title and was amended during the legislative process to the extent that its original purpose was changed. The ruling strikes down restrictions on political activity on college campuses and a judicial recusal requirement.
9/16/22Order Denying Motion for Attorneys Fees filed by the court
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Winter et al. v. Montana (1-DV-21-0699)
Challenges bill providing governor direct appointment power to judicial vacancies 14 major legal filings, last on September 1.
Dismissed
Bill challenged: SB 140
Plaintiffs
Thomas Winter, Barbara Bessette
Defendants
State of Montana, via Governor Greg Gianforte
Judge
Michael McMahon

Major legal filings

6/25/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the lawsuit
6/30/21Motion for Temporary Restraining Order filed by plaintiffs
Asks judge to keep governor from filling a judicial vacancy in accordance with the appointment law challenged by the lawsuit
Argues restraining order request should be denied
7/2/21Order filed by the court
Denies request for Temporary Restraining Order
Indicates plaintiffs have asked the Montana Supreme Court to take over the case (see Winter et al. v. 1st Judicial District, OP-21-0334)
7/22/21Notice of Decision filed by plaintiffs
Indicates the Montana Supreme Court declined to take up the case
7/22/21Supreme Court Order filed by plaintiffs
Copy of Supreme Court Order
7/23/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
7/23/21Brief for Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
8/6/21Response Opposing Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiffs
8/23/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
9/1/21Dismissal Order filed by the court
Dismisses the case with prejudice, meaning it cannot be re-filed
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WildEarth Guardians et al. v. Montana FWP (1-DV-22-0896)
Challenges pro-wolf hunting bills 4 major legal filings, last on November 29.
Pending
Bills challenged: HB 224, HB 225, SB 314, SB 267
Plaintiffs
WildEarth Guardians, Project Coyote
Defendants
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission
Judge
Chris Abbott

Major legal filings

10/28/22Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the lawsuit
11/15/22Temporary Restraining Order filed by the court
Temporarily reverts some hunting rules to 2020 regulations
11/29/22Order Denying Preliminary Injunction filed by the court
Dissolves the temporary restraining order and declines to issue a preliminary injunction, meaning the 2021 wolf laws and associated regulations will be in effect while litigation proceeds.
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Randall et al. v. Montana (1-DV-22-0925)
Challenges bill that allows sex-based insurance pricing 1 major legal filing, last on November 2.
Pending
Bill challenged: HB 379
Plaintiffs
Defendants
State of Montana,
Judge
Michael McMahon

Major legal filings

11/2/22Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the lawsuit

Silver Bow County District Court

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McDonald et al. v. C. Jacobsen (2-DV-21-0120)
Challenges proposed voter referendum on electing Montana Supreme Court justices by district. 15 major legal filings, last on May 5.
Decided - Referendum struck from ballot; Appealed
Bill challenged: HB 325
Plaintiffs
Sister Mary Jo McDonald, Lori Maloney, Fritz Daily, Bob Brown, Dorothy Bradley, Vernon Finley, Mae Nan Ellingson and the League of Women Voters of Montana
Defendants
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen
Judge
Peter Ohman

Major legal filings

5/10/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial legal filing to initiate the lawsuit
7/16/21Motion for Substitution filed by defendants
Requests Kurt Kreuger be replaced with a different judge
7/19/21Objection to Substitution Motion filed by plaintiffs
7/23/21Reply in Support of Substitution Motion filed by defendants
7/30/21Order Denying Motion to Substitute Judge filed by the court
Denies motion to replace Judge Krueger on basis that substitution motion was filed too late
8/4/21Notice of Appeal filed by defendants
Indicates the Attorney General’s office has appealed the substitution order denial to the Montana Supreme Court. See case OP-21-0382.
11/15/21Assumption of Jurisdiction filed by the court
Indicates Judge Krueger has been replaced on the case with Judge John C. Brown.
12/1/21Remittitur filed by Montana Supreme Court
Indicates the lower court’s July 30 order has been reversed.
12/10/21Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
12/10/21Brief for Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
12/10/21Brief for Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
12/15/21Reply Brief filed by plaintiffs
12/23/21Notice of Recusal filed by the court
Indicates Judge John C. Brown has recused himself from the case, being replaced by Judge Peter Ohman.
3/21/22Order on Summary Judgment filed by the court
Grants plaintiffs’ request to declare the planned referendum unconstitutional, striking it from the November ballot.
5/5/22Notice of Appeal filed by defendants
Indicate the state is appealing the matter to the Montana Supreme Court in DA-22-0229.

Cascade County District Court

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MFPE et al. v. Montana (8-DV-21-0500)
Suit by labor groups and disability rights advocates challenging law ending election-day voter registration. 1 major legal filing, last on September 22.
Pending
Bill challenged: HB 176
Plaintiffs
Montana Federation of Public Employees (MFPE), Montana American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Montana Association of Centers for Independent Living, Samantha Harrington, Adam Clinch, Paul Dougherty, Cullen Hinkle, Ashley Johnson, Greg Werber, Wyatt Murdoch, Theresa Froehlich Dutoit, Jasmine Taylor, Karen Cook
Defendants
State of Montana, Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen
Judge
John Kutzman

Related coverage

Major legal filings

9/22/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial legal filing to initiate the lawsuit

Yellowstone County District Court

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Montana Democratic Party v. C. Jacobsen (13-DV-21-0451)
Challenges new laws ending same-day voter registration, establishing voter ID requirements and regulating mail ballot collection. Case was originally filed by the Montana Democratic Party but has been combined with similar cases filed by Western Native Voice et al. and Montana Youth Action et al. 82 major legal filings, last on November 22.
Decided
Bills challenged: HB 176, SB 169, HB 530, HB 506
Plaintiffs
Montana Democratic Party and Mitch Bohn; Montana Native Vote, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Fort Belknap Indian Community, and Northern Cheyenne Tribe; Montana Youth Action, Forward Montana Foundation, and Montana Public Interest Research Group
Defendants
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen
Judge
Michael G. Moses

Related coverage

Major legal filings

4/20/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial legal filing to initiate the lawsuit
5/14/21Amended Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Adds mail ballot collection law, HB 530, to list of bills challenged
6/2/21Motion to Dismiss Counts I, II and III filed by defendant
Pushes to dismiss some of plaintiffs’ specific legal arguments
6/24/21Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
Asks judge to consolidate 13-DV-21-0451, Western Native Voice et al. v. C. Jacobsen, into this case.
6/24/21Brief in Support of Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
6/28/21Brief in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiffs
7/12/21Response to Motion for Consolidation filed by defendants
Resists consolidation effort while motion to dismiss is pending
7/26/21Reply Brief in Support of Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
7/26/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
8/13/21Motion for Protective Order filed by defendants
Asks the court to stay plaintiffs’ discovery requests until it rules on the pending motion to dismiss
8/13/21Brief in Support of Motion for Protective Order filed by defendants
8/20/21Response Opposing Motion for Protective Order filed by plaintiffs
11/9/21Motion for Consolidation filed by plaintiffs
Asks the court to merge 13-DV-21-1097, Montana Youth Action et al. v. C. Jacobsen, into this case.
11/9/21Brief for Motion for Consolidation filed by plaintiffs
11/10/21Order on Motion to Dismiss filed by the court
Denies the state’s motions to throw out the case.
11/24/21Answer filed by defendants
11/24/21Response Opposing Motion to Consolidate filed by defendants
11/29/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
12/10/21Order Granting Motion to Consolidate filed by the court
Merges case 13-DV-21-0560, filed by Western Native Voice et al., into this case.
12/13/21Order Granting Motion to Consolidate filed by the court
Merges case 13-DV-21-1097, filed by youth plaintiffs, into this case.
1/12/22Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by Western Native Voice plaintiffs
Asks judge to nullify laws ending same-day voter registration and regulating mail ballot collection while the lawsuit proceeds.
1/12/22Brief for Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by Western Native Voice plaintiffs
1/12/22Affidavits in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by Western Native Voice plaintiffs
1/12/22Application for Preliminary Injunction filed by Youth plaintiffs
1/12/22Declaration of Scott Lockwood filed by Youth plaintiffs
1/12/22Expert Report of Dr. Michael Herron filed by Youth plaintiffs
1/12/22Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by MDP plaintiffs
1/12/22Memo in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by MDP plaintiffs
1/14/22Declaration of Yael Bromberg filed by Youth plaintiffs
2/17/22Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
2/17/22Statement of Undisputed Facts filed by defendants
2/17/22State’s Declarations filed by defendants
Declarations filed be experts, lawmakers, voters and election administrators in support of the state’s position defending the election regulations
3/2/22Reply Brief Supporting Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by Western Native Voice plaintiffs
3/2/22Declaration of Alex Rate filed by Western Native Voice plaintiffs
Supporting materials for WNV reply
3/2/22Declaration of Matthew Gordon filed by MDP plaintiffs
Supporting materials for MDP reply
3/10/22Oral Arguments on Preliminary Injunction filed by the court
4/5/22Response to Statement of Undisputed Facts filed by plaintiffs
4/5/22Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Youth plaintiffs
4/5/22Brief on Summary Judgment Motions filed by Youth plaintiffs
4/6/22Order Granting Preliminary Injunction filed by the court
Temporarily nullifies the four challenged laws while litigation proceeds
4/6/22Response to Motion for Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
4/6/22Declarations of Matthew Gordon filed by plaintiffs
Supporting materials filed by plaintiffs’ attorney
4/8/22Declaration of Austin James filed by defendants
Supporting materials filed by state attorney
4/8/22Notice of Appeal filed by defendants
Indicates Preliminary Injunction ruling is being appealed to the Montana Supreme Court in case DA-22-0712.
4/14/22Declaration filed by MDP plaintiffs
Supporting evidence filing by MDP plaintiffs’ attorney
4/14/22Brief Opposing Motion to Suspend Preliminary Injunction filed by Western Native Voice plaintiffs
4/14/22Brief Opposing Motion to Suspend Preliminary Injunction filed by Youth plaintiffs
Clarifies that the April 6 order doesn’t apply to unchallenged portions of new laws, denies remainder of motion to put new laws back into effect for the 2022 election.
5/26/22Motion for Advisory Jury filed by defendants
5/26/22Brief for Motion for Advisory Jury filed by defendants
6/3/22Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Youth plaintiffs
6/3/22Brief for Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Youth plaintiffs
6/3/22Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants
6/3/22Declaration of Dale Schowengerdt filed by Defendants
Supporting documentation for summary judgment motion
6/3/22Opposition to Motion for Advisory Jury filed by All plaintiff groups
6/10/22Motion for Protective Order filed by Defendants
Seeks to bar plaintiffs from having Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen sit for an in-person deposition
6/24/22Response to Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment filed by MDP, youth plaintiffs
6/24/22Joint Response to Statement of Undisputed Facts filed by All plaintiff groups
6/24/22Response to Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Western Native Voice plaintiffs
7/27/22Order on Motions for Summary Judgment filed by the Court
Declares one of the bills under challenge in the litigation, HB 506, unconstitutional.
7/28/22Order Denying Motion for Advisory Jury filed by the Court
8/2/22Final Pretrial Order filed by the Court
Court order framing issues to be addressed at trial
8/8/22Plaintiffs Trial Brief filed by Lays out plaintiffs’ position in advance of trial
8/8/22State Trial Brief filed by Defendants
Lays out state position in advance of trial
8/15/22Trial filed by the Court
Nine-day trial ran from Aug. 15 to Aug. 25.
9/30/22Order filed by the Court
Rules three laws are unconstitutional and blocks them from taking effect
11/22/22Notice of Appeal filed by defendants
Indicates the judge’s rulings in the case have been appealed to the Montana Supreme Court in case DA-22-0667.
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Western Native Voice et al. v. C. Jacobsen (13-DV-21-0560)
Challenges new laws ending same-day voter registration and regulating mail ballot collection 12 major legal filings, last on December 10.
Merged
Bills challenged: HB 176, HB 530
Plaintiffs
Western Native Voice, Montana Native Vote, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Fort Belknap Indian Community, and Northern Cheyenne Tribe
Defendants
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen
Judge
Donald Harris

Related coverage

Major legal filings

5/17/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the lawsuit
6/24/21Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
Asks judge to consolidate this case into 13-DV-21-0451, Montana Democratic Party v. C. Jacobsen.
6/24/21Brief in Support of Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
6/22/21Motion for Substitution of Judge filed by defendants
6/30/21Motion for Substitution of Judge filed by plaintiffs
Asks for the case to be reassigned away from Judge Ashley Harada
6/30/21Notice of Judge Substitution filed by the court
Reassigns case from Judge Ashley Harada to Judge Gregory Todd
7/12/21Response to Motion for Consolidation filed by defendants
Resists consolidation for the time being
7/22/21Motion for Substitution of Judge filed by defendants
Asks for the case to be reassigned away from Judge Gregory Todd
7/22/21Notice of Judge Substitution filed by the court
Reassigns case from Judge Gregory Todd to Judge Donald Harris
7/26/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion for Consolidation filed by plaintiffs
8/5/21Answer to Complaint filed by plaintiffs
12/10/21Order Granting Motion to Consolidate filed by the court
Merges this case with 13-DV-21-0451.
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A. Marquez v. Gianforte et al. (13-DV-21-0873)
Challenges law that requires transgender Montanans to obtain surgery before they can update the gender listed on their birth certificate 34 major legal filings, last on September 23.
Pending — Law blocked
Bill challenged: SB 280
Plaintiffs
Amelia Marquez, John Doe
Defendants
Governor Greg Gianforte, Montana Department of Health and Human Services, DPHHS Director Adam Meier
Judge
Michael G. Moses

Major legal filings

7/16/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial legal filing to initiate the lawsuit
7/19/21Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by plaintiffs
Asks judge to keep the law from taking effect while litigation proceeds
7/19/21Brief for Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by plaintiffs
7/21/21Affidavit of Amelia Marquez filed by plaintiffs
Written testimony supporting the request for preliminary injunction
7/21/21Affidavit of John Doe filed by plaintiffs
Written testimony supporting the request for preliminary injunction
7/21/21Affidavit of Akilah Lane filed by plaintiffs
Written testimony for the preliminary injunction request from an ACLU Attorney, who used it to enter the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s Standards of Care manual into evidence
7/30/21Motion for Protective Order filed by plaintiffs
Asks the court permission for unnamed plaintiff John Doe to continue participating in the lawsuit without disclosing his real name
7/30/21Brief Supporting Motion for Protective Order filed by plaintiffs
7/30/21Affidavit Supporting Protective Order Motion filed by plaintiffs
7/30/21Expert Declaration of Dr. Randi C. Ettner filed by plaintiffs
8/6/21Response to Motion for Protective Order filed by defendants
Indicates the Attorney General’s office isn’t opposed to allowing plaintiff Doe to use a pseudonym.
8/18/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
8/18/21Brief Supporting Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
Argues for dismissing the case and pushes back on the preliminary injunction request
8/19/21Stipulated Order for Protective Order filed by the court
Allows John Doe to continue using a pseudonym as the case continues and order parties to avoid disclosing his identity.
9/23/21Brief Opposing Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiffs
10/28/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
12/3/21Order Granting Leave to File Amended Complaint filed by the court
12/3/21Amended Complaint filed by plaintiffs
1/28/22Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint filed by defendants
1/28/22Brief for Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint filed by defendants
1/28/22Declaration of Kathleen Smithgall filed by defendants
Includes transcript of a Dec. 22, 2021 hearing in the case.
4/21/22Order filed by the court
Grants motion for preliminary injunction, putting law on hold while litigation proceeds
5/9/22Answer to Amended Complaint filed by defendants
Asks the court to compel the state health department to resume allowing changes to gender markers on birth certificates.
6/21/22Response to Motion to Clarify filed by defendants
7/5/22Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Clarify filed by plaintiffs
7/5/22Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Clarify filed by plaintiffs
9/19/22Order filed by the Court
Written order compelling the health department to revert to a 2017 policy allowing changes to gender markers on birth certificates. Came following a verbal bench order at a Sept. 15 hearing on the Motion to Clarify.
9/23/22Notice of Appeal filed by defendants
Indicates the case is being appealed to the Montana Supreme Court in OP-22-0552.
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Planned Parenthood et al. v. Montana (13-DV-21-0999)
Challenges four laws that add restrictions on abortions in Montana 39 major legal filings, last on August 29.
Pending — Laws blocked
Bills challenged: HB 136, HB 171, HB 140, HB 229
Plaintiffs
Planned Parenthood of Montana and Joey Banks, M.D.
Defendants
State of Montana, via Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Judge
Michael Moses

Major legal filings

8/16/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that initiates the lawsuit and asks the court to keep the laws from taking effect while the litigation proceeds
8/16/21Brief for Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by plaintiffs
8/16/21Affidavit of Colleen McNicholas filed by plaintiffs
Sworn statement from a Missouri-based OB/GYN
8/16/21Affidavit of Joey Banks filed by plaintiffs
Sworn statement from Planned Parenthood of Montana’s laboratory director
8/16/21Affidavit of Martha Stahl filed by plaintiffs
Sworn statement from Planned Parenthood of Montana’s president and CEO.
8/19/21Disqualification Order filed by the court
Order from Judge Jessica Fehr deeming herself disqualified to preside over the case
8/23/21Substitution Notice filed by the court
Indicates Fehr has been replaced with Judge Donald Harris
8/30/21Motion to Substitute Judge filed by defendant
Requests a substitution for Judge Donald Harris
8/30/21Substitution Notice filed by defendant
Indicates Harris has been replaced with Judge Gregory Todd
9/7/21Declaration of Todd Koch filed by defendant
9/7/21Declaration of Todd Harwell filed by defendant
9/7/21Declaration of Robin Pierucci filed by defendant
9/7/21Declaration of Ingrid Skop filed by defendant
9/7/21Declaration of Patrick Risken filed by defendant
9/7/21Declaration of George Mulcaire-Jones filed by defendant
9/17/21Reply Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by plaintiffs
9/17/21Declaration of Colleen McNicholas filed by defendant
9/17/21Declaration of Joey Banks filed by defendant
9/17/21Declaration of Steven Ralston filed by defendant
9/23/21Hearing Minutes filed by the court
Oral Arguments on whether the court should issue a preliminary injunction keeping the challenged laws from taking effect while litigation proceeds
9/28/21Rebuttal Declaration of George Mulcaire-Jones filed by defendants
9/28/21Rebuttal Declaration of Robin Pierucci filed by defendants
9/29/21Motion to Disqualify Judge filed by defendants
Asks the judge to declare himself disqualified in the case based on comments made during the Sept. 23 hearing. This motion triggered an emergency appeal by plaintiffs to the Montana Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood et al. v 13th Judicial District, or OP-21-0494.
9/29/21Brief for Motion to Disqualify Judge filed by defendants
9/30/21Order of Disqualification filed by the court
Notice that Judge Todd has declared himself disqualified to preside over the case.
9/30/21Notice of Judicial Substitution filed by the court
Indicates Judge Michael G. Moses will take over the case.
9/30/21Motion for Temporary Restraining Order filed by plaintiffs
9/30/21Brief for Motion for Temporary Restraining Order filed by plaintiffs
9/30/21Temporary Restraining Order filed by the court
Keeps laws from taking effect for 10 days to give the new judge time to review the arguments for and against a longer-term preliminary injunction.
10/7/21Order granting Preliminary Injunction filed by the court
Keeps laws from taking effect while litigation proceeds.
10/19/21Notice of Appeal to Supreme Court filed by defendants
Indicates the state is appealing the Oct. 7 preliminary injunction order to the Montana Supreme Court in case DA-21-0521.
10/19/21Motion to Stay Proceedings filed by defendants
10/19/21Brief for Motion to Stay Proceedings filed by defendants
10/22/21Opposition to Motion to Stay Proceedings filed by plaintiffs
11/8/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Stay filed by defendants
11/23/21Order Denying Motion to Stay filed by the court
12/14/21Answer filed by defendants
8/29/22Montana Supreme Court Ruling filed by the court
Indicates the Montana Supreme Court has denied defendants’ effort to appeal the Oct. 2021 preliminary injunction.
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Montana Youth Action et al. v. C. Jacobsen (13-DV-21-1097)
Challenges laws that end election-day voter registration, restrict ballot distribution to soon-to-be-eligible voters, and limit use of student IDs for voter registration 11 major legal filings, last on December 13.
Merged
Bills challenged: HB 176, HB 506, SB 169
Plaintiffs
Montana Youth Action, Forward Montana Foundation, and Montana Public Interest Research Group
Defendants
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen
Judge
Gregory Todd

Major legal filings

9/9/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that initiates the lawsuit
9/10/21Substitution Motion filed by plaintiffs
Requests presiding Judge Ashley Harada be replaced with another judge
9/10/21Notice of Substitution filed by the court
Indicates Harada has been replaced with Judge Donald Harris
9/30/21Substitution Motion filed by defendants
Requests presiding Judge Donald Harris be replaced with another judge
9/30/21Notice of Substitution filed by the court
Indicates Harris has been replaced with Judge Donald Harris
11/9/21Motion for Consolidation filed by plaintiffs
Asks the court to merge this case with 13-DV-21-0451, Montana Democratic Party v. C. Jacobsen.
11/9/21Brief for Motion for Consolidation filed by plaintiffs
11/12/21Answer filed by defendants
11/24/21Brief Opposing Motion to Consolidate filed by defendants
11/29/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
12/13/21Order Granting Consolidation filed by the court
Merges this case into 13-DC-21-0451

Gallatin County District Court

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S. Barrett et al. v. Montana (18-DV-21-0581)
Challenges campus carry law and others, refiled in district court 20 major legal filings, last on October 17.
Decided – Appealed
Bills challenged: HB 102, HB 112, HB 349, SB 319
Plaintiffs
Steve Barrett, Robert Knight, Montana Federation of Public Employees, Lawrence Pettit, Montana University System Faculty Association Representatives, Montana State University Faculty Senate, Joy Honea, Annjeanette Belcourt, Franke Wilmer, Montana Public Interest Research Group, Ashley Phelan, Joseph Knappenberger, Nicole Bondurant, Mae Nan Ellingson
Defendants
State of Montana, Governor Greg Gianforte, Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Judge
Rienne McElyea

Major legal filings

6/3/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initiates the case
7/16/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
7/16/21Brief for Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
8/23/21Brief Opposing Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiffs
9/30/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
12/1/21Notice of Supplemental Authority filed by plaintiffs
Points to ruling in favor of Board of Regents in 1-DV-21-598, saying it bolsters plaintiffs’ case in this litigation.
1/14/22Proposed Order filed by defendants
3/4/22Order Denying Motion to Dismiss filed by the court
3/21/22Answer filed by defendants
5/27/22Motion for Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
5/27/22Brief for Motion for Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
7/1/22Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
7/1/22Brief for Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
7/1/22Declaration of Kathleen Smithgall filed by defendants
8/1/22Reply To Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
8/1/22Reply To Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
8/22/22Reply Brief Supporting State Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
9/14/22Order filed by the Court
Rules that portions of HB 349, HB 519, HB 112 and SB 319 pertaining to higher education are unconstitutional.
10/17/22Notice of Appeal filed by defendants
Indicates the case has been appealed to the Montana Supreme Court in DA-22-0586.

Richland County District Court

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Netzer Law Office v. Montana (7-DV-21-0089)
Challenges law preventing businesses from mandating employee vaccination. 19 major legal filings, last on March 3.
Pending
Bill challenged: HB 702
Plaintiffs
Netzer Law Office
Defendants
State of Montana, Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Department of Labor & Industry Commissioner Laurie Esau
Judge
Olivia Rieger

Major legal filings

6/3/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initiates the case
10/26/21First Amended Complaint filed by
10/26/21Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by
10/26/21Affidavit of Donald L. Netzer filed by
11/4/21Order Calling in Judge filed by the court
Indicates Judge Olivia Rieger has assumed jurisdiction over the case.
11/15/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
11/15/21Declaration of Jayanta Bhattacharya filed by defendants
Statement from medical professor supporting the state’s position on vaccine mandates
12/2/21Notice of Supplemental Authority filed by defendants
Cites federal court ruling that temporarily blocked enforcement of a federal vaccine mandate for Medicare and Medicaid healthcare providers.
12/2/21Motion for Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
12/2/21Supplemental Affidavit of Donald L. Netzer filed by plaintiffs
12/13/21Response to Notice of Supplemental Authority filed by plaintiffs
12/16/21Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
12/23/21Plaintiff’s proposed findings filed by plaintiffs
12/27/21State’s proposed findings filed by defendants
2/1/22Order Denying Preliminary Injunction filed by the court
3/3/22Notice of Appeal filed by plaintiffs
Indicates plaintiffs are appealing the preliminary injunction denial to the Montana Supreme Court in case DA-22-0109

U.S. District Court, District of Montana, Billings Division

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Portland General Electric Company et al. v. NorthWestern Energy et al. (1-21-cv-00047*)
Challenges two laws that aim to keep the Colstrip coal plant operational by changing how and where disputes between owners are handled. A federal magistrate judge struck down both laws in September 2022 on the basis that they violate federal law and parts of the Montana Constitution governing commerce, contracts and arbitration procedures. 65 major legal filings, last on November 15.
Decided — laws struck down
Bills challenged: SB 265, SB 266
Plaintiffs
Portland General Electric Company, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp, Puget Sound Energy Inc.
Defendants
NorthWestern Corporation, Talen Montana LLC, Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Judge
Magistrate Judge Kathleen L. DeSoto, Judge Susan P. Watters

Major legal filings

5/4/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing challenging SB 265
5/19/21Amended Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Adds SB 266 challenge to the lawsuit
5/27/21Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by plaintiffs
Asks judge to keep Attorney General Austin Knudsen from enforcing SB 266
Detailed argument supporting preliminary injunction request
6/2/21Answer to Amended Complaint filed by NorthWestern
NorthWestern's formal response to the issues raised in the complaint
6/3/21Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
6/3/21Brief Supporting Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
Fuller legal arguments on motion
6/17/21Response to Motion to Consolidate Cases filed by NorthWestern
6/17/21Notice of Position on Preliminary Injunction filed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Says a temporary order barring SB 266 enforcement would have no immediate effect since Colstrip owners have an operating budget in place for 2021 and don’t plan to immediately close the plant.
6/17/21Answer to Amended Complaint filed by Talen Montana
Talen’s formal response to the issues raised in the complaint
6/17/21Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by Talen Montana
Arguments opposing request to prevent SB 266 enforcement
6/17/21Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by NorthWestern
Asks the judge to require Colstrip owners to enter arbitration proceedings
6/22/21Answer to Amended Complaint filed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Montana’s formal response to the complaint; asks for the case to be dismissed
7/1/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Consolidate filed by plaintiffs
8/6/21Motion Hearing filed by the court
Oral arguments over preliminary injunction motion, with no immediate ruling from judge
8/17/21Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
8/17/21Brief for Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
8/17/21Statement of Undisputed Facts filed by plaintiffs
9/7/21Brief Opposing Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Talen Montana
9/7/21Rule 56(d) Declaration of Barry Barnett filed by Talen Montana
Request by an attorney representing Talen to delay summary judgment ruling so more discovery can be conducted
9/7/21Statement of Disputed Facts filed by Talen Montana
9/15/21Response to Statement of Undisputed Facts filed by NorthWestern Energy
10/13/21Order Granting Preliminary Injunction filed by the court
Bars Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen from enforcing one of the challenged laws, SB 266, while litigation moves forward.
10/29/21Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
10/29/21Brief for Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by plaintiffs
11/18/21Notice of Opposition to Motion for Clarification filed by Talen Montana
11/18/21Response to Motion for Clarification filed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen
11/19/21Motion to Stay filed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen
11/19/21Brief for Motion to Stay filed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen
11/19/21Declaration of Aislinn Brown filed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Supporting affidavit filed by state attorney
11/24/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion for Clarification filed by plaintiffs
12/3/21Motion to Compel Arbitration filed by NorthWestern Energy
12/3/21Brief Supporting Motion to Compel Arbitration filed by NorthWestern Energy
12/3/21Affidavit of J David Jackson filed by NorthWestern Energy
12/3/21Affidavit of John K. Tabaracci filed by NorthWestern Energy
12/3/21Response to Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by NorthWestern Energy
12/3/21Response to Statement of Undisputed Fact filed by NorthWestern Energy
12/3/21Response to Motion to Stay filed by NorthWestern Corporation
12/3/21Response to Motion to Stay filed by plaintiffs
12/3/21Appendix for Response to Motion to Stay filed by plaintiffs
12/10/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Stay filed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen
12/23/21Brief Opposing Motion to Compel Arbitration filed by plaintiffs Avista Corporation, Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp
12/23/21Brief Supporting Motion to Compel Arbitration filed by plaintiff Puget Sound Energy
12/23/21Brief Opposing Motion to Compel Arbitration filed by defendant Talen Montana
1/13/22Reply Supporting Motion to Compel Arbitration filed by defendant NorthWestern Energy
2/8/22Preliminary Pretrial Statement filed by defendant NorthWestern Energy
Summarizes NorthWestern’s position at this point in the litigation
2/8/22Preliminary Pretrial Statement filed by Attorney General Austin Knudsen
2/8/22Preliminary Pretrial Statement filed by defendant Talen Montana
Summarizes Talen’s position at this point in the litigation
2/8/22Preliminary Pretrial Statement filed by plaintiffs
Summarizes Pacific Northwest utilities’ positions at this point in the litigation
2/8/22Statement of Stipulated Facts filed by plaintiffs
Summarizes facts agreed-upon by all parties at this point in the case
4/1/22Amicus Brief filed by third-party City of Colstrip
4/15/22Response to Colstrip Amicus Brief filed by plaintiffs
4/15/22Declaration of Ronald J. Roberts filed by plaintiffs
4/15/22Declaration of Dallas Deluca filed by plaintiffs
5/10/22Notice of Suggestion of Bankruptcy filed by defendant Talen Montana
Indicates Talen Montana has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which puts an automatic stay on the case.
6/23/22Joint Status Report RE Talen Bankruptcy filed by all parties
9/9/22Status Report and Stipulations filed by utility parties
9/18/22Order filed by the Court
Strikes down the two laws challenged by the lawsuit.
11/15/22Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction filed by the Court
*Link requires login

U.S. District Court, District of Montana, Missoula Division

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Montana Medical Association et al. v. Knudsen et al. (9-21-cv-00108*)
Challenges law that outlaws discrimination based on vaccination status, requesting that it be invalidated in physician offices and hospitals 62 major legal filings, last on October 24.
Pending
Bill challenged: HB 702
Plaintiffs
Montana Medical Association, Five Valleys Urology, Providence Health & Services MT, Western Montana Clinic, Pat Appleby, Mark Carpenter, Diana Jo Page, Wallace Page, Cheyenne Smith
Defendants
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Montana Commissioner of Labor & Industry Laurie Esau
Judge
Donald W. Molloy

Major legal filings

9/23/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the lawsuit
10/21/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
Asks court to dismiss the lawsuit
10/21/21Brief for Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
Supporting arguments for dismissal motion
10/29/21Motion to Intervene and Proposed Complaint filed by Montana Nurses Association
Seeks to add the nurses association to the case as an additional plaintiff and expand the scope of the lawsuit to “all healthcare settings.”
10/29/21Brief for Motion to Intervene filed by Montana Nurses Association
11/1/21Brief Opposing Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiffs
11/1/21Amended Complaint filed by plaintiffs
11/2/21Order Denying Motion to Dismiss filed by the court
11/10/21Second Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
11/10/21Brief for Second Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
11/12/21Brief Opposing Motion to Intervene filed by defendants
11/17/21Brief Opposing Second Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiffs
11/23/21Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Intervene filed by Montana Nurses Association
11/24/21Reply Brief Supporting Second Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
11/30/21Order Granting Motion to Intervene filed by the court
Grants the Montana Nursing Association’s request to be added to the case.
11/30/21Notice of Supplemental Authority filed by defendants
Flags a ruling issued in another case where a federal judge halted a Biden Administration effort to enforce a vaccine mandate for Medicare and Medicaid healthcare providers.
1/5/22Motion to Dismiss Intervenor’s Complaint filed by defendants
1/14/22Intervenor’s Response to Motion to Dismiss filed by Montana Nurses Association
1/25/22Order on Motion to Dismiss filed by the Court
Dismisses some of the claims brought by plaintiffs but allows litigation to proceed on most of them.
2/3/22Amended Complaint filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
2/3/22Amended Complaint filed by Montana Nurses Association plaintiffs
3/2/22Response Opposing Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
3/2/22Hearing filed by the court
Oral arguments on pending motion for preliminary injunction. Judge promised a forthcoming written order.
3/18/22Order filed by the court
Grants a preliminary injunction blocking portions of the law while the lawsuit proceeds.
4/11/22Motion to Clarify Preliminary Injunction Order filed by defendants
5/12/22Stipulated facts filed by all parties
5/12/22Pretrial statement filed by Montana Nurses Association plaintiffs
5/12/22Pretrial statement filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
5/12/22Pretrial statement filed by defendants
5/19/22Supplemental pretrial statement filed by Montana Nurses Association plaintiffs
5/19/22Supplemental pretrial statement filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
5/19/22Supplemental pretrial statement filed by defendants
8/26/22Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
8/26/22Brief for Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
8/26/22Joint Statement of Undisputed Facts filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs and Montana Nurses Association plaintiffs
8/26/22Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Montana Nurses Association plaintiffs
8/26/22Brief for Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Montana Nurses Association plaintiffs
8/26/22Statements Supporting Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
8/26/22Declaration of Mark Carpenter filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
8/26/22Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by defendants
8/26/22Brief for Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by defendants
8/26/22Statement of Undisputed Facts filed by defendants
8/31/22Motion in Limine filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
Seeks to exclude defense testimony from defense experts Dr. Jayanta Bhattacharya and Dr. Ram Duriseti.
8/31/22Brief for Motion in Limine filed by Joint plaintiffs
9/2/22Motions in Limine filed by defendants
Several filings that seek to exclude or limit testimony from Dr. Lauren Wilson, Dr. Bonnie Stephens, Dr. David King, Dr. David Taylor, Dr. Gregory Holzman, Vicky Byrd and on certain topics.
9/2/22Statements Supporting Motions in Limine filed by defendants
9/14/22Response Opposing Plaintiffs’ Motion in Limine filed by defendants
9/16/22Response to Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Montana Nurses Association plaintiffs
9/16/22Response to Motion for Partial Summary Judgment filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
9/16/22Joint Statement of Disputed Facts filed by plaintiffs
9/16/22Response to Motions in Limine filed by Montana Medical Association plaintiffs
9/16/22Response to Motions in Limine filed by Montana Nurses Association plaintiffs
9/16/22Response to Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
Response to Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Nurses Association plaintiffs
9/16/22Response to Motion for Summary Judgment filed by defendants
Response to Motion for Summary Judgment filed by Medical Association plaintiffs
9/16/22Statement of Disputed Facts filed by defendants
10/12/22Order Granting 8/31 Motion in Limine filed by the court
10/24/22Final Pretrial Order filed by the court
10/24/22Bench Trial filed by the court
Trial held in Missoula from Oct. 24 to Oct. 26
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Montana Democratic Party et al. v. Jacobsen et al. (9-21-cv-00119*)
Challenged law that restricts on-campus voter registration and signature gathering. Dismissed by agreement from parties following a ruling in separate case Forward Montana v. Montana, 1-DV-21-0611, that permanently blocked the law. 16 major legal filings, last on May 23.
Dismissed
Bill challenged: SB 319
Plaintiffs
Montana Democratic Party, Montanans for Tester, Macee Patritti
Defendants
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangen
Judge
Donald W. Molloy

Major legal filings

10/12/21Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the lawsuit
11/3/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
11/3/21Brief for Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
Argues the lawsuit should be thrown out because the defendants were served a version of the complaint that was unreadable due to poor printing quality.
11/3/21Affidavit of Angie McLaughlin filed by defendants
Filing by Secretary of State Administrative Officer that includes an image of the criticized summons documents as an exhibit.
11/3/21Affidavit of Jeff Mangan filed by defendants
Filing by Montana Commissioner of Political Practices that includes an image of the criticized summons documents as an exhibit.
11/3/21Affidavit of Rochell Standish filed by defendants
Filing by Montana Department of Justice paralegal that includes an image of the summons documents received by the Attorney General’s office.
11/10/21Order filed by the court
Orders plaintiffs to file an affidavit saying the complaint documents served on defendants were legible.
11/11/21Declaration of Peter Michael Meloy filed by plaintiffs
Affidavit by a plaintiffs’ attorney declaring the complaints served on defendants were “complete and entirely legible.”
11/19/21Answer filed by defendants
12/29/21Statement of Stipulated Facts filed by plaintiffs
12/29/21Preliminary Pretrial Statement filed by plaintiffs
12/29/21Preliminary Pretrial Statement filed by defendants
5/5/22Joint Motion to Stay filed by plaintiffs and defendants
Asks the court to pause the case while similar litigation proceeds in Forward Montana v. Montana
5/9/22Order Granting Motion to Stay filed by
5/20/22Joint Stipulation of Dismissal filed by plaintiffs and defendants
Asks the court to dismiss the case given resolution of Forward Montana v. Montana case
5/23/22Order to Dismiss filed by the court
*Link requires login

U.S. District Court, District of Montana, Great Falls Division

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Upper Missouri Waterkeeper v. EPA (4-22-cv-00032*)
Argued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has violated the Clean Water Act by failing to review a Montana law that loosened water quality regulations by replacing numeric water quality standards with narrative ones. Voluntarily dismissed by plaintiffs. 2 major legal filings, last on May 25.
Dismissed
Bill challenged: SB 358
Plaintiffs
Upper Missouri Waterkeeper
Defendants
United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Administrator Michael Regan
Judge
Brian Morris

Major legal filings

3/24/22Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the lawsuit
5/25/22Notice of Dismissal filed by plaintiffs
Indicates plaintiffs are voluntarily dismissing the case without prejudice, meaning it can be re-filed at a later date.
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Glacier County Regional Port Authority v. Esau (4-22-cv-00081*)
Argues the Montana Human Rights Bureau, part of the state Department of Labor & Industry, has no authority to enforce the anti-vaccine discrimination provisions of HB702 on the Blackfeet Reservation, where a tribal ordinance required COVID-19 vaccination for in-person meeting attendance as of a Nov. 2021 meeting that produced a dispute. 12 major legal filings, last on November 15.
Pending
Bill challenged: HB 702
Plaintiffs
Glacier County Regional Port Authority, Blackfeet Nation
Defendants
Montana Labor Commissioner Laurie Esau, Montana Human Rights Bureau
Judge
Brian Morris

Related coverage

Major legal filings

9/6/22Complaint filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the lawsuit
10/19/22Brief for Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by plaintiffs
10/20/22Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
10/20/22Brief for Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
10/20/22Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by defendants
11/2/22Motion to Intervene filed by Blackfeet Nation
Asks to add the tribal government as a plaintiff on the case
11/2/22Brief for Motion to Intervene filed by Blackfeet Nation
11/14/22Reply Supporting Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by Glacier County port authority plaintiffs
11/14/22Reply Brief Supporting Motion to Dismiss filed by Montana Dept. Labor and Industry
11/15/22Order Granting Motion to Intervene filed by the Court
Allows the Blackfeet Nation to participate as a plaintiff in the case
11/15/22Intervenor Complaint filed by Blackfeet Nation plaintiff
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Legislative subpoena powers

Cases related to the Republican investigation of alleged liberal bias in the Montana judiciary.
TapClick a case for more information. Full legal filings are linked inside case dockets where available (some filings may not be available while MTFP waits on records requests).

U.S. Supreme Court

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Montana State Legislature et al. v. McLaughlin (21-859)
Appeal of Montana Supreme Court decision in dispute over scope of legislative subpoena power and the Legislature’s power to conduct oversight of the judiciary 5 major legal filings, last on March 21.
Petition Denied
Plaintiffs
Montana State Legislature, Speaker of the House Wylie Galt, Senate President Mark Blasdel, Senate Judiciary Chairman Keith Regier
Defendants
Montana Supreme Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

12/6/21Petition for Writ of Certiorari filed by plaintiff
Asks the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case after the Montana Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiffs
1/10/22Amicus Brief of Gov. Greg Gianforte filed by third-party Gov. Greg Gianforte
Endorses the Legislature’s request that the case be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court
2/9/22Brief Opposing Writ filed by defendant Beth McLaughlin
Argues the Supreme Court should not take up the case
3/2/22Reply filed by plaintiff
3/21/22Petition Denied filed by the court
Indicates the court has declined to take up the case.
*Link requires login

Montana Supreme Court

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B. McLaughlin v. Legislature (OP-21-0173)
Dispute over scope of legislative subpoena power and the Legislature’s power to conduct oversight of the judiciary 23 major legal filings, last on December 7.
Decided – Appealed to U.S. Supreme Court
Plaintiffs
Montana Supreme Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin
Defendants
Montana Legislature and the Montana Department of Administration
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Related coverage

Major legal filings

4/14/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
Asks court to throw out the case
4/16/21Order Quashing Legislative Subpoena filed by the court
Temporarily quashes legislative subpoena while case proceeds
4/28/21Petitioner's Response to Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiff
4/29/21Response filed by defendant Montana Dept. of Administration
4/30/21Response filed by defendant Montana Legislature
4/30/21Motion to Disqualify Justices filed by defendants
Argues Supreme Court justices have conflicts of interest and shouldn't preside over the case
5/5/21Recusal Notice for Justice Jim Rice filed by Chief Justice Mike McGrath
Replaces Rice with District Court Judge Donald L. Harris
Argues justices can fairly hear the case
5/12/21Order Denying Disqualification Motion filed by the court
Denies motion seeking to remove Supreme Court justices from the case
5/19/21Correction to Opinion filed by the court
Corrected version of prior order
5/26/21Petition for Rehearing filed by defendants
Asks the Court to reconsider its disqualification denial
6/4/21Response to Petition for Rehearing filed by plaintiff
Argues against the reconsideration request
6/22/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
Asks judge to dismiss case because the Legislature has withdrawn the disputed subpoenas
6/24/21Response to Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiff
Resists motion to dismiss, asks for a court ruling that can guide future legislative subpoenas
6/29/21Order Denying Motion to Dismiss filed by the court
7/14/21Opinion filed by the court
Unanimous ruling that the Legislature exceeded the scope of its power by issuing a broad subpoena for judicial records
7/14/21Opinion Synopsis filed by the court
8/11/21Petition for Rehearing filed by defendants
Asks the Court to reconsider its ruling
9/1/21Response to Petition for Rehearing filed by plaintiffs
9/7/21Order Denying Petition for Rehearing filed by the court
12/7/21Petition for a Writ of Certiorari filed by defendants
Asks the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case on appeal

Lewis & Clark County District Court

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Justice Rice v. Legislature (1-DV-21-0451)
Legislative subpoena challenge filed in district court by Montana Supreme Court Justice Jim Rice 17 major legal filings, last on October 6.
Decided
Plaintiffs
Justice Jim Rice
Defendants
Montana State Legislature
Judge
Michael McMahon

Major legal filings

Asks district court judge to quash legislative subpoena
4/19/21Recusal Notice filed by the court
Substitutes Judge Mike Menahan for Judge Michael McMahon
5/10/21Injunction Hearing filed by the court
Oral arguments about quashing legislative subpoena
5/18/21Preliminary Injunction Order filed by the court
Quashed legislative subpoena while case proceeds
6/23/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
Asks for case to be dismissed since Legislature has withdrawn its subpoenas
7/1/21Response Opposing Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiff
7/6/21Order Denying Motion to Dismiss filed by the court
7/21/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
7/21/21Brief Supporting Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
7/30/21Response Opposing Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiffs
8/12/21Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss filed by defendants
8/23/21Dismissal Motion Order filed by the court
Denies the motion to dismiss
9/17/21Brief Opposing Petition for Declaratory Judgment filed by defendants
9/17/21Brief Opposing Petition for Declaratory Judgment filed by defendants
10/6/21Order on Declaratory Judgement filed by the court
Grant’s Rice’s request to invalidate past legislative subpoenas but declines to block future subpoenas

Public access

Cases involving public access to legislative proceedings.
TapClick a case for more information. Full legal filings are linked inside case dockets where available (some filings may not be available while MTFP waits on records requests).

Montana Supreme Court

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Associated Press et al. v. Barry Usher (OP-21-0392)
Appeals decision in GOP caucus access case, 1-DV-21-0124. The Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling that the gathering of lawmakers could be closed to the public. 5 major legal filings, last on February 8.
Decided – Dismissal upheld
Plaintiffs
Associated Press, Billings Gazette, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Helena Independent Record, Missoulian, Montana Standard, Montana Free Press, Ravalli Republic, Lee Enterprises, Hagadone Media Montana, Montana Broadcasters Association, Montana Newspaper Association
Defendants
House Judiciary Committee Chair Barry Usher
Judge
Montana Supreme Court

Major legal filings

8/8/21Notice of Appeal filed by plaintiffs
Signals that plaintiffs are appealing the case
10/18/21Appeal Brief filed by plaintiffs
Arguments justifying appeal
11/17/21Answer Brief filed by defendants
11/23/21Appellant Reply Brief filed by plaintiffs
2/8/22Order filed by the court
Upholds the lower court ruling in a 6-1 decision, with Justice Laurie McKinnon dissenting

Lewis & Clark County District Court

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Associated Press et al. v. Barry Usher (1-DV-21-0124)
Access lawsuit filed by group of media outlets after a MTFP reporter was denied entry to a House Judiciary Committee GOP caucus committee meeting. Judge Mike Menahan ruled in July that the gathering of lawmakers didn’t constitute a legal committee quorum and dismissed the case. 11 major legal filings, last on July 8.
Decided – dismissed
Plaintiffs
Associated Press, Billings Gazette, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Helena Independent Record, Missoulian, Montana Standard, Montana Free Press, Ravalli Republic, Lee Enterprises, Hagadone Media Montana, Montana Broadcasters Association, Montana Newspaper Association
Defendants
House Judiciary Committee Chair Barry Usher
Judge
Mike Menahan

Major legal filings

2/10/21Petition filed by plaintiffs
Initial filing that kicks off the case, asking the court to declare the meeting a violation of the Montana Constitution’s right-to-know clause.
2/10/21Declaration of Mara Silvers filed by plaintiffs
Sworn statement from MTFP reporter Mara Silvers describing the situation that triggered the lawsuit.
4/2/21Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by plaintiffs
Asks the judge to rule on the case
4/5/21Motion to Dismiss filed by defendant
Argues case should be dismissed
4/5/21Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss filed by defendant
4/14/21Brief in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss filed by plaintiffs
4/19/21Response to Motion for Judgment filed by defendant
5/5/21Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss filed by defendant
5/7/21Reply Brief in Support of Motion for Judgment filed by plaintiffs
7/8/21Order filed by the court
Judicial ruling that dismisses the case
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