| Legislature Events

Countless people enjoy rights guaranteed by our Constitution. Outdoor recreators enjoy clean air and clean water in our landscapes due to the right to a clean and healthful environment. Individuals are guaranteed a right to privacy in many situations, including medical decisions. Our public schools have quality standards and education about Tribes that lived on this land from time in memoriam. Everyday people have the right to know what is going on in government decision-making and right to participate in public processes.

Montana’s Constitution has been called a model document by Constitutional scholars due to its forward-thinking protections. The Constitution has protected Montana for 50 years, and we’re looking forward to its protections for years to come.

Join us for the Rally to Defend Montana’s Constitution on March 15!

When: March 15, noon
Where: The Capitol Building Rotunda in Helena Montana
What: Our Constitutional rights are under attack. Join the Rally to Defend Montana’s Constitution to let legislators know that we don’t want any changes to our Constitution – tell them to protect our rights!

Co-hosts include ACLU of Montana, Families for a Livable Climate, Forward Montana, Gallatin Valley Sunrise, Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club, Montana Environmental Information Center, Northern Plains Resource Council, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana, Western Native Voice, and more to come.

Need a carpool? Email Peyton to get on the list: polson@meic.org

Join us earlier to make signs and march to the Capitol. We’re meeting at the Sanders Auditorium in the DPHHS Building at 111 N Sanders St, Helena, MT 59601 around 11 am.

Brown bag lunch provided.

The rally starts in:

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Speakers:

Mae Nan Ellingson

Mae Nan Robinson Ellingson was the youngest delegate to the 1972 Constitutional Constitutional Convention. She was elected as a 24-year-old graduate student at the University of Montana. After the Convention, she became a lawyer, first working for the City of Missoula and then for 33 years specializing in the finance of public infrastructure throughout the state at Dorsey & Whitney LLP. She retired in 2013, but continued to do pro bono work for non-profit organizations. She is active in many community organizations and projects and, as 1 of 9 delegates remaining, she gladly talks about the Constitution and The Convention. She has two sons and 4 grandchildren.

 

Mica K.

Mica is 14 years old and resides in Missoula. Mica has experienced stress over the impacts of the climate crisis since he was three, when he saw the film Chasing Ice. Mica participates in climate strikes on most Fridays, writes to elected officials, and participates in other acts of civic engagement because he knows Montana must stop promoting fossil fuel projects and address the climate crisis. Mica is one of 16 young people from across the state of Montana filed their constitutional climate lawsuit, Held v. State of Montana, against the state of Montana, asserting that, by supporting a fossil fuel-driven energy system, which is contributing to the climate crisis, Montana is violating their constitutional rights to a clean and healthful environment; to seek safety, health, and happiness; and to individual dignity and equal protection of the law. The youth plaintiffs also argue that the state’s fossil fuel energy system is degrading and depleting Montana’s constitutionally protected public trust resources, including the atmosphere, rivers and lakes, and fish and wildlife.

Jim Nelson

Jim Nelson served as a Justice on the Montana Supreme Court from May 1993 until January 2013. He holds degrees in Business from the University of Idaho (66) and his Juris Doctor degree, from George Washington University (74). Prior to serving on the Court, Jim engaged in the general practice of law in Cut Bank, Montana for 20 years. Additionally, he served as the Glacier County Attorney and prosecutor for 14 of those years. Jim was active in numerous community affairs and organizations and served the State of Montana in various capacities including as a member and chairperson of the State Board of Oil and Gas Conservation and as a member of the State Gaming Advisory Council and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Corrections and Criminal Justice Policy. While on the Supreme Court, Jim served on several Commissions including as one of Montana’s Commissioners on the Uniform Laws Commission. Jim taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Montana School of Law (Alexander Blewett III School of Law) in 2000 (4 th 5 th and 6 th Amendment law) and in 2013 (Remedies and Montana Constitutional law). In retirement, Jim has served as a special master and as a consultant and expert witness in various cases. Jim has always been an outspoken advocate for civil rights and for a fair, impartial and independent judiciary. He is the recipient of various state and national awards for his work. Jim is an Army veteran. He and his wife, Chari, have been married for over 50 years and have two grown children and four grandchildren.

Ta’jin Perez

(Totonac Indigenous) Ta’jin Perez works as the Deputy Director for Western Native Voice. His work inspires Indigenous leadership across Montana, both in tribal nations and urban areas. Ta’jin grew up in Wyoming, is a first-generation American, and a first-generation college graduate. He has a B.A. in History from Austin College in Sherman, TX. Ta’jin previously served on the City of Billings Human Relations Commission and ran for Billings City Council in 2017. He is the father of two children, Rowan and Elio.

Roger Sullivan

Over the course of the last 35 years Roger’s legal career has focused on two objectives: securing justice for Montana’s workers and advocating for Montanans’ constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment. Roger has litigated a number of landmark cases in both the environmental and workers’ rights fields. He has been named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Montana Trial Lawyers Association for his advocacy on behalf of Montana’s workers, and Conservationist of the Year by the Montana Environmental Information Center for his environmental advocacy. Roger is especially proud that his clients have twice been honored with the Citizens Award by the Montana Trial Lawyers Association: the Advisory Committee for the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company Profit Sharing Class Action which succeeded in securing settlements in the range of $100 million; and Libby asbestos victims recognized for their successful efforts in the courts and in defeating corporate bailout legislation at the state and national levels. Roger is admitted to practice in Montana’s state and federal courts; the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; and the U.S. Supreme Court. Roger is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys hiking, skiing, sailing, and fishing—especially with his children and grandchildren.

More about our Montana Constitution

The 1972 Constitutional Convention was a groundbreaking event. Hundreds of Montanans ran during primary and general elections to be elected as a delegate. Of the 100 delegates, 58 were Democrats, 36 Republicans, and 6 Independents. The delegates sat in alphabetical order, so as not to give in to partisanship.

In the end, the delegates’ work in 1972 gave Montana what many consider a “model” state constitution. Along with a substantial declaration of rights, it included sunshine laws to open up the government and grant citizens the right to know and participate in government decision-making.

It bestowed upon all of us our beloved right to a “clean and healthful environment,” which Delegate Bob Campbell helped cinch. The inclusion of “clean and healthful” was essential — and controversial. After it was voted down several times, Bob addressed his fellow delegates with a hypothetical: “Some little kid is going to come up to me or you and say ‘What did you do about my environment in the future?’ And you’re going to have to say, ‘We decided to have one.’”

Here are some of the many rights guaranteed by our Constitution:

  • Right to a Clean & Healthful Environment
  • Right to Privacy
  • Right to a Quality Public Education
  • Voting Rights
  • Right to Know
  • Right to Participation

Watch Constitutional Convention delegates accept MEIC’s Conservationist of the Year Award in 2021:

 

More information:

How the Montana Constitution shapes the state’s environmental landscape

PBS Documentary: For This and Future Generations

Friends of the Montana Constitution

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