Court Upholds Montana’s Ban On Political Endorsement For Judges


A federal appeals court has upheld a Montana law that says judicial candidates cannot seek, accept or use political endorsements in their campaigns.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today upheld a U.S. District Court ruling that found Montana has compelling interests in an impartial and independent judiciary.

Eric Sell is a spokesperson for Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.

“The people of Montana, through the Legislature and through the Judicial Standards Commission have deemed that judicial candidates cannot accept partisan endorsement.”

Judicial candidate Mark French had argued that the rule violated his First Amendment rights as he ran for Justice of the Peace in Sanders County. He was endorsed by the county’s Republican Central Committee, which was chaired by his wife, but state law did not allow him to use the endorsement in his campaigning.

Attorney General Tim Fox said he’s pleased with the 9th Circuit’s decision to allow Montana to require its judicial elections be nonpartisan.

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