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Montana lawyers support Judge Jackson for U.S. Supreme Court

| April 3, 2022 12:00 AM

[Editor’s note: This letter was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and was signed by more than 85 Montana lawyers.]

We write as lawyers of Montana to express our strong support for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to become the next United States Supreme Court justice. We come from many backgrounds, professions, and ideologies, ranging from prosecutors to professors, from civil litigators to state and federal public defenders, from public interest lawyers to judges, among others.

We have our differences — you may note the range of political affiliations — but we are united in the belief that Judge Jackson is exceptionally qualified to serve in this distinguished role. Her demonstrated intellect, wide-ranging experience, and record of commitment to public service speak for themselves.

First, Judge Jackson has boots-on-the-ground experience: She has litigated and adjudicated cases at every possible level of the federal court system. With nearly nine years on the bench, her prior judicial experience exceeds that of most recent justices when appointed — in fact, she has spent more time on the bench than four of the sitting justices had when appointed combined. Indeed, she would be only the second sitting justice with any judicial experience on a trial court.

Second, Judge Jackson also brings an important and underrepresented professional background to the Supreme Court. She would be the nation’s first justice to have served as a public defender. And, notably, she would be the first justice in more than a generation—since Justice Thurgood Marshall’s retirement in 1991 — with substantial criminal defense experience of any kind. This work shows not only Judge Jackson’s commitment to the Constitution, but also her courage: criminal defense attorneys must stand up for their clients’ constitutional rights when it is least popular.

Third, Judge Jackson’s good work in this area extends even further. In her role on the United States Sentencing Commission, she won the admiration of police unions and law enforcement officials, recently earning her their support in these confirmation hearings. These officials cite Judge Jackson’s even-handedness and devoted engagement of all stakeholders.

Fourth, Judge Jackson’s personal story is inspiring. The daughter of two schoolteachers and the product of our nation’s public school system, she represents the best of America — a nation where a talented, hard-working child can grow up to become a Supreme Court Justice, regardless of race and gender. Her story is a testament to her intelligence and personal character as well as to our institutions and our progress as a nation.

Finally, with a distinguished career and a wealth of published decisions bearing her signature, Judge Jackson has proven her ability to identify and reconcile challenging legal and factual issues. She has adhered to the rule of law while showing empathy; Judge Jackson’s career demonstrates that these are not incompatible values. Her career has been dedicated to solving hard problems first for the benefit of her clients, next for the benefit of parties before her; as a justice, she will put the same skills to work on behalf of the Court and all Americans.

At first glance, the diverse group of Montana lawyers who have signed this letter may appear to have little in common with each other and with Judge Jackson. But we share a commitment to maintaining the integrity of the federal judiciary and the legal profession more broadly. Because of that commitment, we believe firmly that Judge Jackson should be confirmed with broad bipartisan support. Given her credentials and experience, there can be no viable objection to Judge Jackson’s qualifications. Partisanship must give way to our mutual interest in advancing democratic norms through an independent, functional judiciary.

We urge the United States Senate to act swiftly to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as the next associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Marc Racicot, Att’y General (1989–93) Governor (1993–2001); Steve Bullock, Att’y General (2009–13) Governor (2013–2021); Patricia Cotter, Retired Justice Montana Supreme Court (2001–2016); James M. Regnier, Retired Justice Montana Supreme Court (1997–2004); James C. Nelson, Retired Justice Montana Supreme Court (1993–2012); Michael W. Cotter, U.S. Attorney Montana (2009–2017) Constance Van Kley, Upper Seven Law; Andrew Imansees Huff, Chippewa Cree; Joseph V. Womack, Member of Montana & Wyoming Bars; Saige Smith, Republican; Madison Mattioli, State of Montana, Dep’t of Justice; Joel Krautter, Former Montana State Representative; Rylee Sommers-Flanagan, Upper Seven Law; Stephanie Denton Baucus, Billings, MT; Maryann Parker, Maryann Parker PLLC; Ross P. Keogh, Parsons Behle & Latimer; Thomas Boone, Boone Karlberg PC; Nicholas Owens, Trailhead Law, PLLC; Ryan W. Aikin, Aikin Law Office; Carolyn Gibadlo, Public Defender; Sam Panarella, Law Professor; Torian Donohoe, Retired attorney; Bo Downen, Montana resident & lawyer; Jeremie Marrow, State Public Defender; Malcolm Gilbert, University of Montana Law Student; Sean Morrison, Morrison Law Firm PLLC; SK Rossi, Central House Strategies; Ted Fellman, Public Defender; Pete Wood, Contract Appellate Public Defender; John Meyer, Treasurer, Natural Resources Section; William Jarosz, Board Chair, Upper Seven Law; Abigail Rogers, Abigail Rogers Law, PLLC. Akilah Maya Lane, Raph Graybill, Doug James, Cynthia Wolken, Timothy Bechtold, Aubrey R. Bertram, Anthony Johnstone, Daniel Brister, Anna Conley, Craig Cowie, Ali Bovingdon, Ann Davey, Roger Sullivan, Hannah Tokerud, Derf Johnson, Anna Maria Kecskes, Jared R. Wigginton, Benjamin Langford, Caitlin Boland Aarab, Emily Gutierrez Caton, Gabrielle N. Gee, Diana Wall, Gary Zadick, Emily J. Cross, William D. Lamdin, III, Molenda McCarty, Niki Zupanic, Robert Phillips, Guy Alsentzer, E. Lars Phillips, Jeff N. Wilson, Colin FitzMauric, Jennifer Streano, John F Sullivan, John M Kauffman, Kari Hong, Michael Black, Nicole Siefert, Katy Stack, John M. Newman, Zack Rogala, Karl Pitcher, Laura R Christoffersen, Paul Leisher, Peter Maltese, Kelli Sather, Jake Coolidge, Matt Peterson, Kelly Driscoll, Michelle Weinberg, Morgan Tuss, Nick Kujawa, Oliver Wood, Rebecca Stursberg, Victoria Bignell.