Demonstrators Interupt U.S. Supreme Court Proceedings on Five Year Anniversary of Citizens United Case

According to Reuters, demonstrators interrupted the U.S. Supreme Court’s proceedings today, the five-year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United case, denouncing the ruling. The 2010 decision held that corporations and unions are entitled to engage in political speech and struck down regulations that limited corporate and union spending in elections. Citizens United remains one of the most controversial decisions of the Court since Chief Justice John Roberts became Chief Justice. Montana recently experienced the effect of this decision when money and advertising flowed into the Montana Supreme Court race by out-of-state conservative groups. You can read Reuter’s article on the demonstrations here. You can read about the flow of outside money into the Montana Supreme Court race here.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Whether State Bans on Same-Sex Marriage are Unconstitutional

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the same-sex marriage cases arising from the states of Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky. Within legal circles, the Supreme Court’s decision was expected. Last November, Montana Federal District Court Judge Brian Morris overturned Montana’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, stating:

This decision overturns a Montana Constitutional amendment approved by the voters of Montana. Yet the United States Constitution exists to protect disfavored minorities from the will of the majority[.]

To date, 36 states allow same-sex marriage, including Montana. So far, every federal appellate court, with the exception of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, has ruled that same-sex marriage marriage bans are unconstitutional under the Due Process and/or Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The Sixth Circuit, which includes the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, held that voters and state legislatures, rather than courts, should decide whether to allow or ban same-sex marriage.

The New York Times has described the issue as “one of the great civil rights questions of the age[.]”

You can read CNN’s article on the Montana decision here.

You can read the New York Time’s article on the Supreme Court’s decision to grant certiori here.

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University of Montana School of Law Graduate Judge Charles “Chip” Erdmann Will Become the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington D.C.

Judge Charles “Chip” Erdmann, a University of Montana School of Law graduate, will become the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in Washington D.C. on August 1, 2015. Judge Erdmann was appointed to the Court by President George W. Bush in 2002. You can read an article about Judge Erdmann on the University of Montana School of Law’s website here.

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University of Montana Law School Graduate Judge Sidney Thomas Now Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Judge Sidney Thomas recently became the Chief Judge of the influential Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

As posted earlier on this blog, Judge Thomas was on President Obama’s shortlist in 2010 for an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ultimately went to Justice Elena Kagan. Notably, Judge Thomas received his law degree from The University of Montana School of Law and maintains his chambers in Billings, Montana. Judge Thomas is not the first Montanan to become Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit. Previous Montana Judges who served as Chief Judge include Judge James R. Browning, of Belt, from 1976 to 1988; and Judge Walter Lyndon Pope, of Missoula,  for one year in 1959.

You can read an article from the Helena Independent Record here. A more recent article from the Billings Gazette can be found here.

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Article on Montana Supreme Court candidates Judge Nels Swandal and Beth Baker Campaign Contributions

Judge Nels Swandal raised $45,500 and Beth Baker raised $53,000 so far in their bids for the Montana Supreme Court. You can read the Helena Independent Record article here.

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