Rep. Skees Wants to Cut Supreme Court Size

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A freshman Republican lawmaker wants to cut the size of the state Supreme Court from seven judges to five.

Rep. Derek Skees of Kalispell says he believes the judicial branch has grown in power, and he is aiming to reduce that influence. He said decreasing the number of justices will make the branch less effective and alternately increase the influence of the Legislature.

Lawyers of all stripes lined up to oppose the bill at a hearing Tuesday. They argued that the backload of cases at the Montana Supreme Court would only increase with fewer justices to write opinions.

The opponents argued it is better to have more decision-makers on big cases, rather than fewer.

The House Judiciary Committee did not take any immediate action on the bill.

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