James C. Nelson

James C. Nelson

James C. Nelson is a retired lawyer and former Montana Supreme Court Justice. He lives in Helena.


What the Legislature is doing to maintain and improve our environment?

By: - April 27, 2023

Drunk on their own power, bullies arrogantly break the rules, beat up on the weak and powerless, and make their little fiefdoms a living hell for those who live in them. Yet, when called to account, when grabbed by the scruff of their necks and dragged to the principal’s office, bullies whine, lie, wring their […]


Montana’s official state religion

By: - April 18, 2023

The supermajority/Freedom Caucus is creating a state religion in Montana—Christianity—despite that our Constitution prohibits doing that.  Article II, section 5 states: “Freedom of Religion. The state shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” (Italics added.)   Cases in point: House Bill 744, which would allow students and teachers […]


Montana’s Freedom Caucus wanders way out of its lane

By: - April 4, 2023

The March 23, Independent Record reported that the legislature decided to keep on the books, as part of Montana’s Code, the “Clean Campaign Act,” which federal District Court Judge Donald W. Molloy ruled last year was unconstitutional, as violating the First Amendment. According to the report, Montana’s legislature decided that the court “wander(ed) out of […]


Senate Bill 458: It won’t pass constitutional muster

By: - March 28, 2023

All the hullabaloo about how much or little Senate Bill 458 will cost the state, if the bill is enacted, completely misses the most important flaw in this proposed piece of legislation.  In attempting to define sex and sexuality to include only sperm and egg producers, SB 458 is nothing other than a disingenuous attempt […]


Kids, you should be able to enjoy your two minutes

By: - March 1, 2023

I recently read an article discussing Held, et al v. Montana. This case, the first of its kind in the United States to go to trial, was filed in Montana First Judicial District Court by 16 young Montanans. These plaintiffs are suing to enforce their inalienable right to a clean and healthful environment, guaranteed under […]


Montana lawmakers are becoming the lapdogs of tyranny

By: - February 13, 2023

There can be no clearer evidence of Montana’s spiral into fascism than the supermajority/Freedom Caucus’ jihad against our state’s fair, independent and impartial judiciary. Make no mistake, this jihad is nothing less than a power-grab, designed to destroy the third, co-equal branch of government, along with the separation of powers and system of checks and […]


Medical aid in dying and knowing the will of God

By: - February 5, 2023

Once again, the GOP supermajority/Freedom Caucus is taking a run at criminalizing doctors who provide medical aid to a dying patient, enabling that person to end his or her own suffering, and life, with a self-administered medication prescribed by the physician. Senate Bill 210 is the bullet that ends the statutory approach to medical aid […]

The Montana state Capitol in Helena on the opening day of the 2023 legislative session on Jan. 2, 2023.

Montana supermajority may put state’s constitution on the chopping block

By: - January 10, 2023

Those who value Montana’s Constitution are concerned—terrified, actually—of what the Legislature’s supermajority (and its new Freedom Caucus) are going to try to do to it this session. Here’s how it can happen:  Article XIV of our Constitution sets forth how it can be revised:  Section 1 provides that the supermajority can submit to the voters […]


The rule of law or the rule of lies?

By: - December 11, 2022

Lawyers and judges understand and, hopefully, respect the rule of law.  This is a very simple principle which informed the writing and adoption of the federal constitution.  This principle was carried through into states’ constitutions. The rule of law is fundamental to our democracy. It is defined as “a principle under which all persons, institutions, […]


Independent State Legislature Theory: The new pitch black

By: - November 7, 2022

It is always darkest–right before it gets pitch-black. Sadly, that is also true in constitutional law. The case in point is Moore vs. Harper, pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. That the Supreme Court even took this case begs a conclusion that the conservative fix is in and that the Court will decide before the […]


Montana AG Knudsen is all hat, no cows

By: - October 12, 2022

In his recent guest view, Attorney General Austin Knudsen whines that the Montana Supreme Court deprived Montanans of a right to decide election methods. Specifically, electing supreme court justices by district, instead of in statewide, non-partisan elections. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Supreme Court simply determined that placing an unconstitutional measure (House […]


Montanans must reject calls to change constitution, or end women’s rights

By: - August 31, 2022

The storm clouds are gathering, readying a downpour of attacks on women’s right to reproductive self-determination. Prime time, and obviously well-funded, television ads have, for months, been proclaiming the value and humanness of children of all ages, whether “planned” or not.  Viewers are being assaulted with barely-understandable, baby-talking fetuses saying the same thing—”I wasn’t planned, […]