FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, August 10, 2012
CONTACT: Erik Burke (406) 459-2643
Supreme Court Rules LR-123 Unconstitutional
(HELENA) — Today, MEA-MFT praised the decision by the Montana Supreme Court which ruled Legislative Referendum 123 (LR-123) unconstitutional and removed it from the November general election ballot.
“We are grateful the Court decided not to waste voters’ time with a measure that is so blatantly unconstitutional,” said Erik Burke, executive director of MEA-MFT. MEA-MFT is a plaintiff in the court case, along with the Montana State AFL-CIO; Montana Public Employees Association; Montana Association of Area Agencies on Aging; and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Montana Council 9.
MEA-MFT is also a partner in the coalition that formed to oppose LR-123, called Montanans for Fiscal Accountability. The coalition is composed of 26 Montana organizations including business groups, faith leaders, AARP Montana, the Montana Nurses Association, labor unions, conservation groups, the Montana Public Health Association, MEA-MFT, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network and many others.
“Montana weathered the recession better than most states because we saved during the good times,” said Burke. “LR-123 would have left no grain in the bin for hard times, even if it meant slashing funds for our kids’ classrooms, healthcare for low income kids, or laying off firefighters and police. Montanans don’t want that, and they would have voted against it in November.”
The Supreme Court affirmed District Court Judge Jeffrey Sherlock’s decision 4 to 3, with Chief Justice Mike McGrath and Justices Jim Nelson, Brian Morris, and Mike Wheat in the majority. Justices Patricia Cotter, Jim Rice and Beth Baker dissented.
Due to the tight timeframes associated with preparing ballots for the general election, the Supreme Court issued its order without an opinion, analysis or rationale. The Court indicated those statements would be released in due course.
MEA-MFT represents more than 18,000 Montana K-12 teachers and school support staff, higher education faculty, public employees, Head Start, and health care employees.