Democrat Steve Bullock had an oversized influence on the Montana judiciary during his eight years as governor, appointing 28 judges and justices – half of the state’s entire judiciary.
In part, that influence led to a controversial change this year in how the Montana governor can fill judicial vacancies.
His successor, Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, asked the 2021 Legislature to give him direct power to appoint judges to the Supreme Court and state District Court, eliminating a long-standing commission that vetted and chose finalists for open positions. The GOP majority quickly agreed to the change, putting it into law.