Montana: House bill to require Supreme Court deliberate in public narrowly rejected 48-52

A plan to require the justices of the Montana Supreme Court hold the deliberative sessions in public rather than in chambers of a private conference room was effectively killed on a procedural vote Friday on a 48-52 vote.

HB 424 was put forth over anger that a parental notification for minors seeking an abortion law approved by voters may be overturned by the state Supreme Court. Proponents argued the state constitution’s open meetings requirement already applied to the Supreme Court and therefore compelled them to deliberate in public. Opponents pointed to the original 1972 constitutional convention that put in the open meetings requirement and that it was not intended to affect the judiciary’s practice of private deliberations.

The motion to advance the bill to the Third Reading calendar 48-52 with all 41 House Democrats voting against along with 11 Republicans.