Friday, June 24, 2011

Montana Dem AG forced to defend GOP initiated marriage law and cannabis legislation

Update: Couples and ACLU win in New York!

Montana's attorney general, Democrat Steve Bullock, has not yet announced his intention to run for governor and he is being tested on at least two fronts by his own constituency.

He defended the state's position in Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana where domestic partners are suing for equal rights after voters amended the state's constitution to affirm the Bush-era Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). He filed a motion to dismiss the case that was ruled on by a Helena District Court judge and is now headed for appeal.

Today he is faced with Senate Bill 423, a pit dug out for him by Republicans in the 2011 Montana Legislature and unsigned by Montana's Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer. From the Billings Gazette:
If District Judge James Reynolds temporarily halts implementation of the full law, the state acknowledged that Montana law would revert to what it was before parts of the new law took effect May 13, a memorandum filed Thursday said. The new law, Senate Bill 423, repeals the current medical marijuana law, which Montana voters passed as an initiative in 2004. At a hearing this week, Reynolds strongly signaled he was considering striking down parts of the law -- if not the whole statute -- on a temporary basis before it takes effect July 1. The state maintained that it believes this ban on sales of marijuana, which is an illegal product under federal and state law, is "rationally related to legitimate governmental interests and is, therefore, constitutional." However, if Reynolds enjoins this section, other provisions of the law would remain in place, and subject to enforcement, the Attorney General's Office said.
Bullock could be facing a tough primary against popular labor-backed Missoula legislator Dave Wanzenried, and state senator Larry Jent of Bozeman.

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