I recently read that retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor gave a speech in Billings that criticized the Montana way of electing justices for our Supreme Court. While her answer for improving our system was to take away our right to vote, I believe that increased and improved communication from the candidates is a better answer. As a third generation Montanan, my family has seen many candidates for our state’s highest court. Too often, those candidates failed to provide voters with the kind of information needed to make an educated decision at the ballot box. As the Bozeman Chronicle recently opined, “when it comes to judge candidates, the voters don’t get much of anything.”
As a district judge for 16 years in two rural counties, I’ve always been up front with the people I serve. While traditional candidates for the Montana Supreme Court often hide from their background, that’s not the kind of person that I am. Voters deserve to know everything about the people they are being asked to support. That’s why I decided to go against the political grain in my recent television ad by directly addressing criticisms about my past support for Republican candidates and the fact that my political opinions have never influenced my decisions in hundreds of cases. It’s time for Supreme Court candidates to be completely candid with Montana voters. They deserve to know the full story, and I look forward to honestly communicating my background with Montanans throughout the upcoming campaign.
Judge Nels Swandal
Montana Supreme Court candidate