Two seats on the Montana Supreme Court are up for election in 2022. The race for the first seat is between incumbent Justice Jim Rice and Bill D’Alton. The race for the second seat between incumbent Justice Ingrid Gustafson and James Brown is covered in another guide. The winner of each election will serve an eight-year term.
The state supreme court is nonpartisan, meaning candidates do not run as a Republican or Democrat. Although the races are nonpartisan, the Montana Supreme Court is regarded as closely divided, but slightly liberal.
The Montana Supreme Court decides questions of state law that often have a significant impact on state policy and individual rights. Just this year, the Court issued decisions that paused enforcement of three state laws that restricted abortion access; reinstated election-day voter registration; and invalidated a revision to state gun laws that allowed concealed carry on college campuses.
To help you decide, we’ve assembled background about the candidates’ education and previous work experience, along with rulings they’ve made as sitting judges, public statements, and publicized endorsements, to indicate how they might rule on key issues in the future.
For more information on the candidates see the campaign websites below as well as this interview with Bill D’Alton and this article about Justice Jim Rice. Finally, here is more information on the candidates in both races.
D’Alton is an attorney in private practice at the D’Alton Law Firm. He graduated from the University of Montana School of Law and, before joining private practice, worked as a public defender. If elected, D’Alton promises to serve only one eight-year term and his campaign “will not accept any money from potential donors.”
Justice Rice currently serves on the Montana Supreme Court. He was appointed by then Governor Martz in 2001 and is the longest serving justice. Rice is a former Republican Montana state representative and former Chairman of the state Board of Personnel Appeals. After graduating from the University of Montana School of Law, Rice worked as a public defender and later was a partner at the firm Jackson & Rice.
The authors of this guide were unable to locate any endorsements for D’Alton.
Rice is endorsed by Montana Conservation Voters.