Deafening silence from the Montana media

By 
Sen. Keith Regier
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Crickets are chirping throughout the forests and plains of Big Sky Country, but the sound is not announcing the long-awaited blossoming of spring in the Rockies.

Instead the crickets’ eerie noises are all that can be heard in the midst of complete and total silence from Montana’s newspapers and other public right to know advocates.

As a major scandal involving Montana’s judicial branch of government continues to develop, the people normally at the forefront of open records, freedom of information, and the public’s right to inspect government documents are conspicuously absent.

What did we hear from them when the state’s Supreme Court Administrator deleted public record emails?

Crickets.

When Supreme Court Justice Dirk Sandefur wrote to the Legislature that he routinely deleted emails “for the past 18 years,” what did we hear?

Crickets.

Instead of calls to release public records, demands for explanations about deleting government emails, and questions about the Supreme Court’s activities, we’ve heard…

Crickets.

When the legislature launched an investigation into the deleted public records and other misconduct by the judicial branch, what did we hear?

Crickets, from everyone except the Butte paper’s editorial board, which told the Legislature to “knock it off” without saying a word about the judiciary destroying public records.

That same newspaper, along with a dozen other Montana media outlets, went so far as to sue the Legislature just a couple months earlier when lawmakers had one private meeting with out a quorum of a committee. A single private meeting with too few lawmakers to

A single private meeting with too few lawmakers to cast any votes resulted in an immediate lawsuit from a dozen public right to know advocates. The Billings Gazette also keeps touting winning a different lawsuit with the Public Service Commission over public records. Yet when Supreme Court justices and their employees admit to destroying public records we don’t hear a peep from any of the same folks.

Maybe the difference is that Republicans control the Legislature and PSC but liberals control the judicial branch. Montana’s media is always quick to claim they aren’t partisan and are committed to holding everyone in power accountable regardless of political affiliation.

And yet every day the crickets’ chirps become more deafening in the silence of those who should be raising their voices about the Supreme Court’s supreme misconduct. Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, is the chair of the Senate Judi

Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Statements regarding to Montana Supreme Court ruling in favor of SB 140

Statement From Gov. Greg Gianforte on Montana Supreme Court Finding SB 140 Constitutional

In response to the Montana Supreme Court finding SB 140 constitutional with its decision in Brown v. Gianforte, Governor Gianforte issued the following statement:

“The Montana Supreme Court reaffirmed what we’ve known to be true: SB 140 is constitutional, and our Constitution gives the legislature the authority to determine how the governor fills a judicial vacancy. I will appoint judges who will interpret laws, not make them from the bench, and who are committed to the fair, consistent, and objective application of the law.”

Statement from Sen. Keith Regier, sponsor of SB 140, on the MT Supreme Court ruling SB 140 is constitutional:

“The Supreme Court made the clearly correct ruling based on the plain language of Montana’s Constitution and the history of Montana’s constitutional convention. As was the case when the Legislature passed SB 140, the new process for appointing judges is constitutional. It’s now up to Governor Gianforte to appoint qualified, thoughtful judges who will rule strictly on the law and constitution and not legislate from the bench. The Montana Supreme Court’s ruling today is a great example of ruling strictly on the constitutionality of a law and respecting the Legislature’s role as the legislative branch of government.”

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