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Montana Supreme Court Will Consider Challenge To New Judicial Appointment Law With Full Bench

The Montana Supreme Court will proceed with a full bench to consider a challenge to a new law that allows the governor to appoint judges and justices to court vacancies.

An order filed Tuesday says Judge Matthew Wald from the 22nd judicial district in southeast Montana will substitute for Chief Justice Mike McGrath, who has recused himself after he urged Gov. Greg Gianforte not to sign the legislation.

The court did not order more extensive briefing or oral argument.

The case has sparked an investigation by Republican lawmakers into alleged bias in the state’s judicial branch and misuse of state resources. That investigation is expected to extend beyond the end of the legislative session.

Democratic lawmakers say Republicans’ actions are an attack on the separation of powers that check and balance state government.