Forward Montana v. Montana ex rel. Gianforte

In a 16-minute closed door meeting during the final hours of the 2021 legislative session, legislators bolted on two amendments to Senate Bill 319 that were fundamentally unrelated to the bill's original subject matter.  Section 21 bans a wide array of political activities--including voter identification and registration drives, voter turnout efforts, and signature or ballot collection efforts--in university residential, dining, and athletic facilities.  Section 22 requires judges to recuse themselves from a case if they received $91 or more in donations from any party or attorney before them in the last six years.  On July 1, 2021, the Court issued a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of Sections 21 and 22 during the pendency of the litigation.

On February 3, 2022, the Court granted Forward Montana, Leo Gallagher, Gary Zadick, and the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ motion for summary judgment, declaring that Sections 21 and 22 of Senate Bill 319 are in violation of the Montana Constitution, and are thus permanently enjoined.

Filings      /      Press

Complaint (June 4, 2021)

Alex Sakariassen, Another law generates another constitutional challenge, Montana Free Press (June 1, 2021)

Maritsa Georgiou, New lawsuit challenges constitutionality of SB 319, NBC Montana (June 1, 2021)

Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (Aug. 18, 2021)

Plaintiffs' Brief in Support (Aug. 18, 2021)

State's Motion to Stay Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (Sept. 7, 2021)

State's Brief in Support (Sept. 7, 2021)

Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition (Sept. 13, 2021)

State's Reply in Support (Sept. 24, 2021)

Motion to Stay Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment denied from the bench (Oct. 25, 2021)

State's Brief in Opposition to Motion for Summary Judgment (Dec. 20, 2021)

Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (Feb. 3, 2022)

Seaborn Larson, Judge strikes part of law, saying last-minute changes violated Constitution, Independent Record (Feb. 3, 2022) 

Mike Dennison and John Riley, Judge strikes down law restricting political activity on Montana college campuses, KTVH Helena (Feb. 3, 2022)

Arren Kimbel-Sannit, Judge rules late amendments to campaign finance bill illegal, Daily Montanan (Feb. 4, 2022)