On December 10, the Montana Supreme Court ordered both sides in MEA-MFT v State of Montana, OP 13-789, to file briefs by January 9, 2014. This is the lawsuit on whether the top-two election measure should remain on the November 2014 ballot.
The groups that filed the lawsuit, which argues that the measure is invalid, are the MEA-MFT (a union), the Montana AFL-CIO, the Montana Public Employees Association, the Montana Human Rights Network, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. One of the attorneys for the plaintiffs is John Morrison, who was Montana’s elected State Auditor 2000-2004.
The lawsuit argues that the top-two measure is invalid because: (1) an election law says the title of a ballot measure can’t be longer than 100 words, but this measure’s title is 196 words; (2) that the measure improperly includes two measures, one which converts separate primary ballots into a single primary ballot, and the other that says only the top two vote-getters may appear on the November ballot.
In rebuttal, so far, the state argues that the measure has more than 100 words in its title only if code sections that are being amended are counted as words, and the state says code sections should not be counted as words. Also the state says both parts of the ballot measure are related to each other. These arguments will be fleshed out in the briefs that will be filed in January.