Montana Supreme Court
Judicial Selection Method: Election (Nonpartisan)
7 Justices
8 year terms
State High Court Judicial Selection Process Legal Authority

  • Candidates are nominated in a nonpartisan primary election.
  • The two candidates who receive the highest number of votes are placed on the nonpartisan general ballot.
  • The candidate who receives the highest number of votes is elected to the Montana Supreme Court.

Interim Vacancies

  • Upon receiving notice from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Governor shall appoint a candidate to fill any vacancy on the Supreme Court or the District Court. (Mont. Code § 3-1-901)

    Docket Watch

  • Supreme Court Reaffirms Its Holding from Citizens United

    In denying a recent petition for certiorari and summarily reversing a decision of the Montana Supreme Court, the United States Supreme Court adhered to principles of stare decisis and reaffirmed its 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (“Citizens United”), which held that corporations and labor unions’ independent spending for political campaigns enjoys First Amendment free-speech protection.1 The Montana Supreme Court had upheld a state law that prohibited corporate political expenditures, reasoning that Citizens United did not apply in Montana because of the state’s purportedly distinctive history of its “political system being corrupted by corporate interests.”2 The United States Supreme Court disagreed, summarily reversing without granting certiorari.3

  • Montana Takes on Citizens United

    From the Montana Supreme Court comes a potential challenge to the United States Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (“Citizens United”). The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision ruled, 5-4, that corporations’ and labor unions’ independent spending in elections is political speech and does not corrupt the political process; therefore, a ban on such spending included in section 203 of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (“BCRA”) could not survive strict scrutiny under the First Amendment.

  • Montana Supreme Court: Physician-Assisted Suicide Is an End-of-Life Option

    On the last day of 2009, Montana’s Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Baxter v. Montana,1 making it the first high court to permit physician-assisted suicide. “[W]e find nothing in Montana Supreme Court precedent or Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy,”2 stated the court. “We also find nothing in the plain language of Montana statutes indicating that physician aid in dying is against public policy. In physician aid in dying, the patient—not the physician—commits the final death-causing act by self administering a lethal dose of medicine.”3 Therefore, under Montana’s consent statute4 “a terminally ill patient’s consent to physician aid in dying constitutes a statutory defense to a charge of homicide against the aiding physician when no other consent exceptions apply.”

  • Judicial Election

    Judges are elected by popular vote.
  • Democratic Appointment

    Judges are appointed directly by a democratic body, or appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of some democratic body.