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Montana SupCo denies former Dem lawmakers' request to block judicial pick

Montana SupCo denies former Dem lawmakers' request to block judicial pick

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The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday denied two former Democratic lawmakers' request to hear their challenge on the state's new judicial appointment process. 

Tom Winter and Barbara Bessette requested the high court take their case after a district court judge denied their motion for a restraining order blocking Gov. Greg Gianforte, a Republican, from exercising his new, expanded power to appoint a new judge in Cascade County. Winter and Bessette are challenging Senate Bill 140, the legislation that gave Gianforte the broader appointment power, in Lewis and Clark County District Court on separation of powers arguments. The Supreme Court already upheld the law, challenged in that case under different arguments, in June.

The Supreme Court's ruling found the former lawmakers' request to the high court to take their case did not make a case as to why the district court ruling was erroneous, didn't come with the required filings and didn't follow the traditional appeal process. 

The case now returns to Lewis and Clark County District Court, where Judge Mike McMahon has already once written in his rulings that he was "genuinely concerned whether Winter and Bessette have established a legitimate cause of action or that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims."

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