Attorney General seeks sanctions against abortion groups for improper lawsuit

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen has submitted a motion for sanctions in state district court against Planned Parenthood, along with other abortion providers and their legal representatives. The motion stated the groups “knowingly and deliberately violated Montana’s laws and showed disrespect towards the judiciary and Montana’s governmental system”. The lawsuit was filed against a bill that had not yet become law. A statement from the Department of Justice stated that the purpose of these sanctions is to “penalize the plaintiffs for their frivolous and abusive litigation strategies” and to discouraging other special interest groups from misusing the Montana courts for unconstitutional objectives.

The lawsuit by the abortion groups and their subsequent request for a temporary restraining order against House Bill 721 were initiated even prior to the bill being sent to Governor Gianforte. However,   Judge Kathy Seeley rejected the motion for a temporary restraining order.

“No reasonable attorney would contend that Montana law allows a party to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a bill before it is enacted. Because Plaintiffs plainly knew this suit was premature, the only logical conclusion is that it was filed for the improper purposes of interfering with the constitutional legislative process and initiating a public relations stunt,” the Attorney General’s Office wrote in the brief. “According to the Montana Constitution, the Legislature and the Governor must be free to exercise their constitutionally mandated legislative and executive powers without interference from the judiciary being commandeered by special interest groups thumbing their nose at the rule of law and the rules of civil procedure.”

The Attorney General’s office contends the groups violated Montana Rule 11(b) by filing a frivolous complaint and request for a temporary restraining order that lacks merit, filing the lawsuit and request for improper purposes, and misrepresenting the appropriate standard of proof.

The requested sanctions encompass several measures, including requiring the plaintiffs to cover the costs and attorneys’ fees incurred by the state. Additionally, the plaintiffs’ local counsel would be required to complete Continuing Legal Education courses on ethics in litigation through the State Bar of Montana. The motion also aims to prevent the admission of nearly a dozen out-of-state attorneys who were involved in initiating the inappropriate lawsuit.

“Plaintiffs knew HB 721 was not law when they filed this action. They knew the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate their claims. They knew there was no relief the Court could grant. There is no legitimate argument to be made that Plaintiffs relied in good faith on existing law or a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law,” the brief states.

House Speaker Matt Regier served as the sponsor of HB 721, aimed at prohibiting dismemberment abortions beyond the 15-week mark. The bill highlights that an unborn human being at this stage of development can exhibit finger movements, initiate sucking motions, respond to external stimuli, and is likely capable of experiencing pain. Furthermore, the bill references a 2007 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which recognizes that an unborn human being has acquired “the human form” in all significant aspects by 12 weeks of gestation.

By: Politics406 Staff