Candidate Seeks Court Ruling on Party Endorsements

Candidate wants Sanders County Republican Central Committee endorsement

By Justin Franz

A Montana justice of the peace candidate is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that he can receive Republican Party endorsements in his nonpartisan race.

Mark French is challenging Justice of the Peace Donald Strine in the Nov. 4 election. French wants to tell voters the Sanders County Republican Central Committee and Republican lawmakers have endorsed him, but he cannot under the Montana Code of Judicial Conduct.

French says the code’s rules against judicial candidates accepting or using partisan endorsements violate his free-speech rights under the First Amendment.

His request for an injunction was denied by a federal judge and the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals. On Tuesday, he filed an emergency application with the U.S. Supreme Court.

State attorneys say an injunction would disrupt Montana’s judicial elections.

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