Judge Dismisses Schweitzer’s Suit Against Legislature
A Helena district judge has ruled that Schweitzer does not have the legal standing necessary to continue with the lawsuit filed against the 2009 Montana state legislature.
HELENA — A Helena district judge Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Gov. Brian Schweitzer against the 2009 Montana Legislature over the constitutionality of a spending bill.
District Judge Kathy Seeley agreed with lawyers for the Legislature in granting their motion to dismiss the case, saying Schweitzer lacked the legal standing to file the suit because he asked for a ruling on a speculative outcome.
Schweitzer sued the 2009 Legislature and its budget committees in September, contending that House Bill 676, a companion bill to the main appropriations bill, HB2, contained multiple subject matters in violation of the state constitution.
Schweitzer let HB676 become law without his signature in the spring of 2009. Despite his reservations, Schweitzer said he declined to veto the bill, which he received after lawmakers had adjourned, because it would have required him to call a costly special legislative session to address his concerns.
Schweitzer argued that his veto power was compromised.
But Seeley wrote that the governor did “not identify any direct impairment of his veto, only that he did not like what he perceived to be the consequences of a veto.”
He asked the court to strike down the law as unconstitutional, but delay the ruling until mid-2011 to give the 2011 Legislature a chance to fix the problems.
The judge said the governor's veto power is important and should not be constrained, but “in this case there was no restriction on the governor's veto power.”
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