Evan Barrett’s response to Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the United States Supreme Court (April 7 Standard guest column) is a churlish attempt to make people mistakenly think that 75 percent of Montanans supported Tester’s vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation. This is deceptive.
On the contrary it appears a majority of Montanans supported Gorsuch, including Sen. Steve Daines, Atty. Gen. Tim Fox, Indian tribes, Montana Chamber of Commerce and The Billings Gazette.
Fox wrote, “With my 30 years of Montana and national experience as an attorney, and with hundreds of appearances before judges in local, state and federal courts, including federal circuit court and Supreme Court advocacy, I find Judge Gorsuch to be extremely well qualified, mainstream, and worthy of confirmation.”
Yet Barrett’s article infers that Sen. Jon Tester “Sided with 75 percent of Montanans on Gorsuch vote?” What’s the illusion?
Barrett writes: “Specifically, Tester said he believed that Gorsuch supports the massive intrusion of corporations into our election processes …. since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.”
Gorsuch had nothing to do with that decision, which is now the law of the land. Gorsuch testified during his confirmation hearing he “accepts” the law of the land, which is very different from “supporting” a court ruling.
Citizens United allows political expenditures by non-profit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions and other associations. Many Montanans for good reason don’t like Citizens United. The Montana Supreme Court said in 2011 existing Montana campaign finance laws restricting corporate campaign contributions prevailed. This ruling was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.
Montana voters responded in 2012 with 75 percent approving a bipartisan ballot initiative I-166 that stated corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human and, in effect, hammered Citizens United.
What Barrett wants us to believe is this:
• 75 percent of Montana voters in 2012 approved I-166 against Citizens United.
• Tester voted against Gorsuch’s confirmation in 2017 because Gorsuch “supports” Citizens United.
• Thus, Barrett argues Tester sided with 75 percent of Montanans with his confirmation vote against Gorsuch.
This reasoning is misleading. First, a bipartisan, single-issue ballot initiative in Montana is very different from a partisan, multi-issue, U.S. Senate confirmation process. Second, there is a big difference between “supporting” and “accepting.”
Barrett’s argument fails on misleading comparisons and on a false assumption – saying Gorsuch “supports” Citizens United, when, in fact, he “accepts” the law of the land.
Barrett tries to persuade readers that Tester sided with 75 percent of Montana voters with his confirmation vote against Gorsuch. Besides being ridiculous, Barrett offers no relevant evidence to support his position or that his conclusion is true.
-- Cort Freeman of Butte is a former business reporter, businessman, and retired corporate communication executive.