San Francisco, CA – On Monday, April 17th the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Plaintiff’s emergency motion requesting injunctive relief – access to Montana’s May 25 Special Election ballot for U.S. Representative.

Today, in response to the ruling, Montana Green Party candidate, Thomas Breck, and Independent candidates Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell, will continue to fight to get on the ballot.  Plaintiffs filed an emergency application for an injunction at the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

Breck said: “We are disappointed in the failure of the Ninth Circuit Court to issue an injunction requiring the Montana Secretary of State to add the Montana Green Party’s candidate onto the special election ballot.  It is the constitutional right of each American to be given the opportunity to participate as a candidate, and vote for a candidate that represents their ideals.”

This ballot-access battle began on March 1, 2017, when U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke resigned from Congress, effective immediately, in order to take office as Secretary of Interior.  On the same day, Montana Governor Steve Bullock ordered a special election to fill the vacancy, setting the election for May 25, 2017 – 85 days following the vacancy – which was the earliest date allowed by Montana law.  Qualified-party candidates need only file a declaration and oath of candidacy form and pay a filing fee no later than 75 days before the election.

Independent and minor-party candidates, on the other hand, can appear on the special-election ballot only if the candidate or party submits declaration and oath of candidacy form and a nominating petition containing a sufficient number of signatures no later than 82 days before the election.  The number of signatures required on a nominating petition for a special election is the same number required for a general election: 5% or more of the total vote cast for the successful candidate for the same office at the last general election – or, this case,14,268 valid signatures.  The filing fee for the May 25 special election is $1,740. That’s over 14,000 signatures in a 5-day window. Even Superman couldn’t pull that off.

On March 21, Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell, both Bozeman residents, and Thomas Breck, Green Party candidate from Missoula, filed suit in federal district court in Great Falls challenging Montana’s special-election laws governing ‘minor party’ and independent candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. The lawsuit claims that the Montana Secretary of State, Cory Stapleton, violated rights guaranteed to plaintiffs by the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

Kelly is an artist and environmental activist and has twice qualified as a candidate for Montana’s lone seat in U.S. House of Representatives.  In 1994, as an independent, he garnered over 9% of the vote statewide.  He won the Democratic Party’s primary election in 2002, winning over 33% of the vote in the general election that year.

The corrosive power of party corruption and big money was on full display in the 2016 election. People are sick of it – it’s high time we let the people decide. Plaintiffs have taken a stand against tyranny and other abuses of authoritarian power employed to oppress and deny rights guaranteed to the people in the Constitution.

On April 8, The Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction and enjoined the State from enforcing Montana’s ballot access laws to the extent that it requires an independent or minor party candidate to obtain in excess of 400 valid signatures in order to appear on the ballot for the May 25, 2017, special election.

Here’s the catch:  The deadline for submitting the court-ordered number, 400 signatures, instead of the original 14,268, was not changed from the original date, March 6.  The court’s retroactive deadline effectively denied any opportunity for plaintiffs to appear on the ballot, in spite of the court’s acknowledgement that the state’s election scheme is unconstitutional.

On April 9, Plaintiffs appealed the limiting scope of the injunction to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that the Order effectively prohibited Plaintiffs from appearing on the May 25 special-election ballot.

As we saw in 2000 with the Gore vs. Bush debacle at the U.S. Supreme Court, judges are an integral part of “the (funky, funky) system” that maintains order for the ruling class. Whether elected, or appointed for lifetime terms, the judiciary is made up of “captive actors,” just like bureaucrats the EPA or the president and his White House staff.

On April 11, Plaintiffs’ motion was “granted to the extent that it requests a stay pending the Ninth Circuit’s resolution of the Plaintiffs’ appeal.”

On April 17, Appellants’ emergency motion requesting injunctive relief pending appeal was denied by 9th Circuit Judges Silverman, KcKeown and Hurwitz. No explanation from the court was given in the 1 ½-page Order.

So, we’re off to see the wizard(s) at the Supreme Court.


  1. This may be trivial or not, but is Gov. Bullock a descendant of Seth Bullock of Deadwood fame and a crony of Teddy Roosevelt? I know you don’t need to be reminded of what you are up against and how old it is. Good luck!


  2. Thanks all. Don’t know Gov. Bullock’s history. He’s the usual authoritarian-right Democrat that acts like he cares about the common folk. Another so-so lawyer that carries cowboy boots in his luggage for just the right crowd. We do our best to keep him busy trying to defend the status quo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Update. The SCOTUS denied our injunction motion. End of the line for this ballot. I think this setback will, however, motivate Greens and independents in Montana to qualify for the 2018 ballot. Yes, Senator Tester, you should look over your left shoulder. For years you have bribed the faux-left, and lied to unsuspecting innocents on the left who have had no real representation since Sen. Lee Metcalf. That may change sooner than you think. You are Sonny Liston to us. We will be training for the next big fight.


    1. Sorry about your loss there … I have learned these past few years that court decisions are not tethered to law or sensibility. Anything can happen.

      Senator Tester was obviously spotted while serving in the State Legislature. Since it was understood (this is hindsight) that Conrad Burns was losing it, mentally, the Timber Lobby needed a replacement puppet, but decided to use the Democratic Party so that they could harvest the anti-Burns sentiment brought about by the (fake?) Abramoff scandal, and still have their guy in office.

      What I don’t understand is what they saw in him … and what they have on him. You’ve been around Helena a whole lot more than me … do they use honey traps on politicians? Are there motels with two way mirrors?

      (Yes, I understand, how the hell would you know? Maybe you’ve heard rumors?)


  4. No clue. I did notice in 2002 that Tester as was well funded as any state senate campaign I’d ever seen. Miles and miles of wheat and Tester signs all the way from Great Falls to Havre, and back on down to Lewistown. He was certainly “in” by that time, the rest was practice, practice, practice, is my best quess.

    I remember being at a meeting with Sen. Melcher — long before I was known as a problem — at the home of Forestry School Dean/Prof. Arne Bolle in Missoula. 1984-86, I’m guessing. His chief of staff was a guy from Louisiana Pacific Lumber Co. named Howie McDowell. So it goes way back. Why, I do not know. I guess you’ve got to put something on Warren Buffett’s and Dennis Washington’s railroad besides coal and grain.


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