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Montana Attorney General
(MUST be returned by 5PM, March 27, 2020 (Received here) for any candidate with a Primary challenge)

1.  Preemption and LR-130.  Montana has a “preemption law” at 45-8-351. M.C.A., to effectively implement Article II, Section 12 of the Montana Constitution by prohibiting local governments from regulating firearms.  Notwithstanding our preemption law, the City of Missoula recently attempted to impose a type of gun control known as a “universal background check,” to require a federal background check for most private transfers of firearms.  Ultimately, both the Attorney General and the Montana Supreme Court held that Missoula's ordinance violated Montana's preemption law.  To forestall future attempts such as Missoula's and clarify existing law, the Legislature passed HB 357, which created Legislative Referendum # 130 (LR-130).  This measure will be on the ballot in November for a public vote.  LR-130 is intended to strengthen Montana's existing preemption law and to further clarify that local governments may not regulate firearms and may not create a patchwork of gun control across Montana. Do you:

(  ) Support LR-130
(  ) Oppose LR-130
(  ) Take no position on LR-130

2.  Government spending to influence elections outcome.  Any use of taxpayer funds to influence the outcome of elections has generated two legal axioms about such spending:

1)  That when legislative bodies budget and appropriate taxpayer funds, it is no legitimate part of that appropriation to influence the outcome of an election.  Therefore, any spending of taxpayer funds that has the effect of taking sides or influencing an election outcome amounts to theft of public funds; and

2)  Under the “equal stake doctrine,” both the proponents and opponents of an issue to be publicly decided at an election have an equal stake in any taxpayer funds used to influence public opinion on the issue.  Therefore, any spending of taxpayer funds must be neutral (e.g., an AG's ballot statement of intent) or balanced (e.g., the SoS Voter Information Pamphlet).

If state or local governmental entities should attempt to or actually spend taxpayer funds to influence an election, will you seek legal remedies to stop that abuse and will you seek to hold the officials responsible for such misuse of public funds?

(  ) Yes
(  ) No

3.  SJ 11.  The 2017 Montana Legislature passed Senate Joint Resolution # 11, defining for the first time ever an important phrase used in the Montana Constitution.  That phrase declares that the right to keep or bear arms shall not be “called in question.” Now that there is finally a definition of this critical phrase, as expressed by the people of Montana via their elected representatives in the Legislature, are you comfortable asserting this definition in court as needed?

(  ) Yes
(  ) No
(  ) It depends on the case

4.  Chief law enforcement officer?  There is some dispute over what official is the "chief law enforcement officer" (CLEO) in Montana.  Past AGs have asserted that the AG is the CLEO in Montana.  Some county attorneys have claimed that they are the CLEO in their county.  Traditionally, elected sheriffs have been considered to be the CLEO within their jurisdiction, although some chiefs of police have claimed that they, not the sheriff, are the CLEO within municipal boundaries.  Who do you believe is the ultimate CLEO for any location in Montana?

(  ) AG
(  ) County Attorney within his county
(  ) Sheriff within his county
(  ) Chief of police within his city

5.  Ninth and Tenth Amendments.  The Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution reserve to the people and the states all powers not overtly delegated to the federal government in the Constitution, yet these two amendments are often treated in legal circles as the ugly stepchildren of law and are largely ignored.  The two dominant schools of legal thought about the Ninth and Tenth Amendments may be 1) that these two amendments are included in the footnotes to the Constitution, but they don't really mean much about how the Constitution is actually implemented, or 2) any amendment actually amends and changes the underlying Constitution, and when any conflict exists between the amendment and other terms or authorities in the document, then deference must be given to the amendment as the most recent expression of the enacting authority.  Do you agree more with the first view or the second?

(  ) First
(  ) Second

6. "Red flag" laws.  Some states have considered or adopted a type of law that has come to be called a "red flag" law, or in some cases a Risk Protection Order (RPO). Proponents allege these laws make people safer by allowing police to take people's guns if there is an allegation that such persons might be dangerous to themselves or others. Despite possibly good intentions of proponents, such laws have serious constitutional and practical problems.  The constitutional problems include lack of due process and violation of property rights and the right to keep or bear arms.  Some practical problems include that such a policy fails its intended goal because it leaves an allegedly dangerous person free to find another way to commit the predicted mayhem.  An RPO bill was introduced unsuccessfully in the 2019 Legislature and will probably be introduced again in 2021.  About such a bill, would you:

(  ) Actively support
(  ) Passively support
(  ) Be neutral
(  ) Passively oppose
(  ) Actively oppose

7.  Buffering federal actions.   The federal incidents at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho, have taught us that sometimes it is desirable for state or local authorities to moderate the impact of federal authorities upon local citizens.  As AG, would you seek to buffer overzealous federal actions in Montana?

(  ) Yes
(  ) No

8.  Sanctuary state.  Some assert that the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution makes all federal laws and regulations superior to any state authority.  However, the U.S. Supreme Court has held in Printz v. US  (a Montana case) that Congress may not commandeer state and local government personnel and resources.  MSSA has proposed a law prohibiting state and local government employees from enforcing or aiding to enforce any new federal gun control laws, such as bans on certain firearms or ammunition feeding devices.  Do you believe such a state law and prohibition is legally sustainable?

(  ) Yes
(  ) No

9.  Permitless carry.  Since 1991, it has not been required for a person to have a concealed weapon permit to have a firearm "wholly or partially covered by clothing or wearing apparel" in 99.4% of Montana - outside of the limits of incorporated cities or towns.  Since 1991, there is no evidence that such unpermitted people have abused this prerogative.  MSSA proposes that this condition apply now to the remaining 6/10ths of 1% of Montana, inside city limits.  Do you think this is good policy?

(  ) Yes
(  ) No

10.  "Gun Free Zones."  Mythical "gun free zones" are only gun free for non-dangerous, law-abiding people.  For lawbreakers, "gun free zones" are government-guaranteed safety zones where criminals may ply their mayhem without effective interference.  That's why over 90% of all mass shootings happen in "gun free zones."  MSSA proposes that people with Montana concealed weapon permits, people who have been vetted by the local sheriff, be exempt from all government-created "gun free zones" except prisons, jails, courtrooms, and federal enclaves.  For this proposal, are you:

(  ) In support
(  ) Neutral
(  ) Opposed

11.  Judging the Constitution.  It has long been assumed by many that only the U.S. Supreme Court may determine the powers the states have delegated to the federal government in the Constitution.  However, the principle also exists that the servant may not judge the powers given to him by his master, or that an agent may not judge the powers given to him by his principal.  By this standard, only the states may properly define the powers they have delegated to the federal government when they created it with the Constitution, and that no branch of the federal government, including the judicial branch, may properly or ultimately make that decision.  What do you believe?

(  ) By tested tradition, only the Supreme Court may rule on the U.S. Constitution.
(  ) For the states to make such decisions would just be unworkable.
(  ) The states have reserved sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to determine what powers they have delegated to the federal government in the Constitution.
(  ) Because the states created the Constitution and the federal government, only the states may determine what powers they delegated.
(  ) Other (please explain)

12.  Contract for statehood - effect.  Article I of the Montana Constitution is the Compact with the United States.  That Compact is a contract entered into by and between Montana and the other states in 1889, wherein Congress was acting as the agent for the other states.  This contract declares that it is not subject to amendment without such change having been ratified by the parties to the contract.  Montana and its people are also guaranteed by contract law a view of the Montana and U.S. Constitutions as they were understood and accepted in 1889, at the time the contract was agreed upon.  Do you agree with this view, or do you view the terms of this contract as having become changed over time, without overt ratification, but by the flow of time, events, case law evolution, changing judicial philosophies, and/or enactment of laws by Congress that effect changes in the original conditions of the contract?
(  ) I agree that contract law binds the U.S. and Montana to an understanding of terms and conditions that existed when the contract was entered into.
(  ) I disagree because the contract or circumstances have changed
(  ) Other (please explain)

13.  Prior restraint.  Prior restraint describes both a governmental action, and a doctrine that has evolved concerning First Amendment intrusions by governmental entities.  In short, the doctrine holds that government entities may not prevent in advance the exercise of a constitutionally-reserved right, but before resorting to any final course of prior restraint (with narrow exceptions) a governmental entity must either avail itself of all alternate remedies (e.g., sequestering a jury), or must rely upon punishing afterwards any abuse of rights.  If prior restraint of a reserved constitutional right is allowed at all, it must be narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government purpose.  Do you think the concept of limiting prior restraint of a fundamental right should also apply to the fundamental rights reserved under the Second Amendment and Article II, Section 12 of the Montana Constitution?
( ) Yes
( ) No
( ) Other (please explain)

The foregoing responses are actually my positions on these issues, to the best of my knowledge and at this time.

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Printed Name, Candidate for Attorney General of Montana