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Montana Supreme Court races

Dear MSSA Friends,

What’s up with the races for the Montana Supreme Court (MSC)? Great question.

First, some background. The MSC is one of the last bastions of
politically liberal power in Montana. The left has lost all the
statewide offices and the Legislature because of the left’s practiced
irrelevance. What power the left holds on to, so far, is the
education industry, some local governments, and the MSC.

The MSC is made up of seven justices, a Chief Justice, and six
Associate Justices. They are all elected to staggered eight-year
terms. Two of those seats are up for election this election cycle.
Two of the sitting justices are thought to be neutral or conservative.
The remaining and dominant seven are generally seen as political

The liberal majority of the MSC has basically controlled Montana
public policy for decades. Nothing important happens with public
policy in Montana unless the MSC allows it. More specifically, any
substantial political effort to limit or reduce taxation, or to limit
or reduce government growth and power, gets hauled before the MSC by
liberal syncopates, whereupon the MSC figures out some way, often
clever or disingenuous way, to torpedo the effort. This phenomenon
has played out many times.

So, we do need to elect justices to the MSC who will not run Montana
like a liberal fiefdom, but who will simply to the job they’ve taken
an oath to do, to “support, protect and defend the constitution.”

This election cycle, there are two seats on the MSC up for election.
The top two vote-getters in the June Primary will advance to the
General Election ballot in November. For MSC Justice #1, there are
only two candidates, so both will advance to the General Election.
About these two:

Bill D’Alton is an unknown from Billings. He doesn’t have any record
of votes or decisions that I know of. He listed no phone number or
Website with the Secretary of State when he filed to run for office.
He did not return MSSA’s Judicial Candidate Questionnaire. From this
dearth of information, I assume he is the liberal’s choice to take
this MSC seat, but trying to run a stealthy campaign. He will
probably be well funded by the dying but desperate liberal
establishment, so you will see a lot of nicely-done but senseless ads
for him before the General Election.

Jim Rice is the incumbent. Jim has a voting record from when he was
in the Legislature, and it’s a good record on our issues. Jim was
also the author of the MSC decision that slapped down the Missoula
City Council and its attempt at gun control. Finally, I know Jim
personally and like him politically for the issues within MSSA’s
mission area.

Right, MSC justices are not supposed to be political. If you’re
willing to believe that, I have some nice oceanfront property near
Roundup to sell you.

The other MSC seat up for election is Justice #2.

The incumbent Justice is Ingrid Gustafson. She is seen by many
observers as the most liberal of all justices on the MSC, although
there is stiff competition for this title. She did not return an MSSA
Candidate Questionnaire. She is not likely to be a friend of Montana
gun owners or our constitutional RKBA on the MSC.

The next candidate is Helena District Court Judge Michael McMahon.
This is the judge who ruled against Montana gun owners in the lawsuit
by the Board of Regents to block the campus carry feature of MSSA’s
2021 House Bill 102. He ruled that the Regents could ignore the Right
to Keep or Bear Arms that the people have reserved to themselves from
government interference in the Montana Constitution. Even worse, he
ruled that if MSSA were involved in this lawsuit about campus guns on
behalf of Montana gun owners, MSSA would not be allowed to discuss the
RKBA reserved to the people in either the federal or state
constitutions. This from a public servant who swore an oath to
“support, protect and defend the constitution.” This is why I filed a
Complaint against McMahon with the Judicial Standards Commission for
violation of his oath of office. Montana gun owners definitely
deserve better that McMahon on the MSC.

The third candidate is Attorney Jim Brown of Helena. Jim understands
the RKBA. When MSSA was litigating our Montana Firearms Freedom Act
in the federal court system, Jim wrote an amicus brief for us. He has
collaborated on other RKBA issues. He is currently elected to the
Public Service Commission. Brown would make a great replacement for
Gustafson on the MSC.

So, that’s the situation with the MSC. Bottom line: Rice and Brown,
or Brown Rice if that helps you remember.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, *Gun Laws of Montana*

P.S., don’t forget to get your tickets to the MSSA gala event about
“the Future of Guns in Montana,” to happen in Missoula on May 14th.
There’s more information about this on the front page of MSSA’s