A proposed referendum for the 2012 ballot in Montana would require candidates for district court judgeships and the state Supreme Court to run with partisan labels.
Currently, the state’s judicial elections are nonpartisan. State Rep. Michael More, a Republican and sponsor of the referendum bill, said about the measure, “The issue is greater transparency in the judicial branch.” According to a Helena Independent Record article, he continued:
“We all bring our biases to the table.
“I think it’s just a matter of maturity to require that (judicial candidates) reveal those biases going into an election.”
But Niki Zupanic, public policy director of the ACLU of Montana, warned, “We strongly feel this will entrench our judiciary in partisan politics.”
And Ed Bartlett, a lobbyist for the Montana Judges Association, said the proposal “would take away, or perhaps be contrary to, the independence and impartiality of the district court judges and Supreme Court justices,” an Associated Press article reported.