HELENA – A federal appeals court has upheld a Montana law that says judicial candidates cannot seek, accept or use political endorsements in their campaigns.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday upheld a U.S. District Court ruling that found Montana has compelling interests in an impartial and independent judiciary.
Mark French argued the rule violated his First Amendment rights as he ran for Justice of the Peace in Sanders County. He was endorsed by the county’s Republican Central Committee, which was chaired by his wife, but state law did not allow him to use the endorsement in his campaigning.
Attorney General Tim Fox said he’s pleased with the 9th Circuit’s decision to allow Montana to require its judicial elections be nonpartisan.