Montana Board of Regents Sues to Violate Students’ Gun Rights


Students shouldn’t have to surrender their constitutional rights or civil liberties to attend institutions of higher learning, so conservatives have argued. But those arguments are now over legislatively, thanks to the passage of House Bill 102, which permits students to do that which they should already constitutionally be allowed to do – to exercise their Second Amendment civil rights.

However, the Board of Regents, which has the “power, responsibility, and authority to supervise, coordinate, manage and control the Montana University System, and supervise and coordinate other public educational institutions assigned by law” according to its website (in comparison to the Montana law code, their own description of their power seems a little…grandiose.

This board consists of seven individuals in seven-year terms, excepting that one member is a student appointed to a one-year term. They are appointed by the governor, which means that those currently serving were selected by Governor Gianforte’s Democrat predecessor.

The Democrat-led Board of Regents voted unanimously on Wednesday to challenge HB102, which is now law. Their message is simple; students forego their civil liberties in order to receive a higher education in Montana.

Education or liberty. Pick one.

Their statement to the press claimed, “While the board respects the role of its partners in the legislature, the board has determined it must seek clarity through the courts on whether HB102 encroaches upon the board’s authority to properly and independently administer the Montana university system.”

In other words, the board believes the law – passed by the legislature and signed by the governor – doesn’t apply to them.

Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association said in an email to his liberty-minded supporters, “The [Board of Regents] believes, and will argue in court, that having been created by Article X, Section 9(2)(a) of the Montana Constitution, it somehow becomes some sort of super agency that is above any further authority in the Constitution.  Unlike the executive branch, the Legislature, local governments, and every other entity created by the Constitution, the [Board of Regents] believes that it is exempt from the limitations imposed by the Declaration of Rights in Article II of the Constitution.”

Conservatives are not optimistic that the Montana court will uphold the law. Montana Daily Gazette spoke to one prominent Republican legislator who said off the record, “Of course the court will strike it down. They have contempt for the legislature, for legislation, and for the people who elected the legislators.”

The spoke of the current constitutional crisis in which the Montana Supreme Court has declared itself above the law, refusing to obey the ‘Right to Know’ clause in the state constitution.

Marbut himself stated, “Meanwhile, the wild card in this is the Montana judiciary, including the Montana Supreme Court, which has long demonstrated that it is capable of amazing legal contortions to uphold state power.  It is possible that the judiciary will declare that the color of new snow is black, or pull some similar legal trick to uphold the BoR power and nix campus carry under HB 102.  We’ll see.”


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