The following Guest Editorial was written and submitted by retired Montana Senator Ed Butcher.
I and other Voters in Public Service Commission [PSC] District #1 are concerned and angry with a Federal Judge (Molloy) panel of Judges accepting a lawsuit filed by former Secretary of State Bob Brown in a partisan last-minute effort to intervene in the election of two Public Service Commission seats in the middle of the 2022 election cycle. PSC District #1 and PSC District #5 are two of the five seats on the Montana Public Service Commission, which are being disrupted by this last-minute Democrat Party ploy. In addition, this political maneuver is disruptive to the residents in PSC #1, comprised of 19 counties’ representation in the regulation of monopolies, including our power supply.
The lawsuit correctly calls attention to the imbalance in all five PSC districts’ voter representation because of population growth patterns in Montana. However, instead of allowing the state legislature to re-draw boundaries during their 2023 session, this last-minute lawsuit is a Democrat Party effort to disrupt the PSC. Democrats are concerned that votes have elected Republican commissioners in all five districts. This blatantly Democrat political maneuver utilizing socialist-leaning judges in by-passing the legislative process is led by a former Republican professional politician [Bob Brown]. Following his defeat as a Republican governor candidate, Brown has become a major Democrat Party supporter.
To counter this political effort, as an independently elected official within our “separation of powers,” the Secretary of State needs to proceed in the certification of candidates for the 2023 PSC elections. This would be within her Constitutional election duties, leaving the political maneuvering resolved between the Court and the 2023 Legislature. It is critical to recognize that the Judicial Branch has no authority over other Constitutional branches of government.
As a former college political history professor, I am concerned that this federal judge panel is violating state responsibilities for elections under the “Separation of Power” doctrine. I would like to remind the Democrats and their judicial allies that the judicial role of judging the Constitutionality of legislative actions established under the 1803 case of Marbury VS Madison is restricted to providing other elected branches of government (which includes the Secretary of State, which is an independently elected position in Montana) with only a legal “opinion” regarding Constitutional actions.
Unfortunately, during the past century, the judicial branch of government, in an effort to capture a greater share of political power, has attempted to integrate a concept of “Judicial Nullification.” There is no Constitutional basis for this expansion of power in pursuit of political objectives to circumvent legislative decisions. The international socialist/Marxist movements by “left-wing” political factions have infiltrated American politics in recent decades. Efforts such as this Democrat lawsuit must be resisted by states, legislative bodies, and most important, resisted by voters who take the time to educate themselves–if America is to preserve its historic experiment in self-government.
Sen. Ed Butcher (Ret) is a Central Montana rancher/businessman, former high school American Government teacher, and a college political history professor who served for ten years in leadership positions in the Montana Senate and House.