Guest opinion: Calling balls and strikes for Montana

This article for information only. Click here to read the original article on the Billings Gazette

MIKE BLACK | Sep 17, 2020

It is news to many people that in Montana voters elect our Supreme Court Justices. Often, come Election Day, many voters wonder about who they should support to serve on Montana’s highest court. Do not let that happen to you. Keeping the court out of the hands of dark money and corporate control is in the balance.

During his 2005 confirmation hearing, Chief Justice John Roberts of the U.S. Supreme Court stressed that Justices are servants of the law, not the other way around, and they are like umpires — the job is to call balls and strikes, and not to pitch or bat. They must have the humility to recognize that they operate within a system of precedent shaped by other Justices who served before them.

Justice McKinnon has spent too much time in the batter’s box swinging at wild pitches. After moving to Montana from the East Coast, Justice McKinnon was elected in 2012 with the help of dark money poured into Montana by wealthy out-of-state interests. Since then, she has voted in favor of her dark money benefactors in cases before the Supreme Court — without even disclosing they spent many thousands of dollars to get her elected and before this dark money spending became public.

Justice McKinnon has also repeatedly written and joined opinions against the majority of the other justices. These opinions show she does not: (1) respect established Montana law protecting a woman’s right to choose and the fundamental right to privacy in the Montana Constitution; (2) respect established Montana law protecting consumers and working people from unfair practices by insurance companies and large corporations; and (3) respect established Montana law protecting access to our public land and water for hiking, biking, floating, hunting and fishing. Justice McKinnon has an agenda, working over and over against the fundamental rights guaranteed to Montanans by the Montana Constitution. She does not merely call balls and strikes like an umpire. She too often stands in the batter’s box as an advocate, hoping to hit a home run for her wealthy patrons and to overturn settled Montana law.

In June 2019, Justice McKinnon announced she would retire and return to the East Coast. She bought a home in North Carolina and public records indicate her North Carolina home became her “principal residence.” Late last year, after a trip to the East Coast where she reported, “They kind of poured a little cement down my spine,” and convinced her to run again. She has never identified who “they” are, or why. Was she promised more dark money support? The voters deserve an explanation from her and a commitment she will serve out her term if she wins the election.

That is why you need to pay close attention to the 2020 Montana Supreme Court race. Do you want the Big Sky Country’s highest court to lean even more toward the interests of wealthy dark money donors, large corporations and insurance companies? Or will you stand with me, Mike Black, and support my candidacy for the Court? My friends call me a “man of the people” and they are right. Everybody will get equal and fair consideration if you elect me to serve Montana on our Supreme Court. I was born and raised here — I am not going anywhere. I stand with Montanans. I will call balls and strikes, respecting and following settled Montana law and the Montana Constitution.

Mike Black

Mike Black is running for the Montana Supreme Court against incumbent Justice Laurie McKinnon.


Join Us

36th Annual Harry S Truman Democratic Dinner

Enjoy an evening of great conversation, fun prizes, and celebration of our Democratic values a our annual fundraiser dinner and auction!