Montana’s judicial branch at center of power struggle

Power over Montana’s judicial branch is at the center of a debate over the constitutionality of a new law that gives the governor more options to fill midterm vacancies on the state bench.

Senate Bill 140, which Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed into law last month, eliminated the Judicial Nominating Commission, an unelected body that greatly limited the governor’s nominating power by requiring that all judicial candidates be selected from a pre-approved list.