James C. Nelson

James C. Nelson

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


The denial of reality is spreading across Montana

By: - July 25, 2022

Forget COVID.  It appears that a malevolent mental condition has now reached epidemic in two Montana counties.   On July 5 and 11 the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee and the Lewis Clark County Montana Republican Party, respectively, passed resolutions rejecting the results of the 2020 presidential election and formally declared the President Joe Biden was […]


This Supreme Court is paving their own path forward thanks to an activist judiciary

By: - July 12, 2022

The United States Supreme Court is out of control–hell-bent on overruling established precedents and facilitating the creation of an authoritarian theocratic state. Bear in mind that in their various confirmation hearings the, now justices all genuflected at the altar of stare decisis, which means “to stand by things decided.” Basically, if a previous court has […]


In Montana, we can only have one governor at a time

By: - June 29, 2022

It was one thing that the Gov. Greg Gianforte’s recent vacation left the public and the press playing “Where’s Waldo?” for the week that he was, as it turns out, in Italy, but how his executive office was handled during the catastrophic floods in Carbon, Park and Stillwater Counties leaves some doubts as to who […]


Women are victims of ‘Supreme’ hypocrites

By: - June 25, 2022

On Friday, The U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Mississippi abortion case, Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.  The Court’s overruled Roe vs. Wade, allowing the states to impose whatever abortion restrictions their legislatures can come up with.  Judges should be immune from partisan and sectarian pressures when deciding cases.  This is […]


Montana Supreme Court must be more open now than ever

By: - June 9, 2022

In his June 8, commentary “How the Supreme Court Works” author, John Moore, notes that administrative proceedings before the Montana Supreme Court are open to the public, whereas the Court’s deliberations on appealed cases are closed to public scrutiny.  He then closes with a question: “What do you think?” As the author of the concurrence […]


Before add more religious-based laws, we should clean up the religions

By: - June 6, 2022

Conservative/evangelical religions have joined with right-wing politicians from all branches of government, including those in the federal judiciary, to overrule Roe vs. Wade and its progeny and to undo 50 years of “settled law” (so acknowledged by the various members of the conservative Supreme Court who were appointed since Roe and who are now poised […]


Suppress? Subvert? Why choose either when it comes to elections?

By: - June 1, 2022

It has been said that nothing is foolproof, because fools are so ingenious. Substitute the word authoritarian for fool, and this piece of conventional wisdom is particularly apropos in our struggle to obtain and maintain the goal of truly free, open and fair elections as guaranteed under Montana’s constitutional right of suffrage.  Article II, Section […]


Let the little children suffer

By: - May 22, 2022

With the demise of Roe vs. Wade in the air, conservative state legislators, grounded in partisan and evangelical ideology, are vying to outdo each other in adopting laws that would prohibit and punish abortion. Louisiana Republicans, for example, advanced (but then pulled) a bill that would have classified abortion as homicide and would have allowed […]


Montana may protect women better than any other state when it comes to abortion

By: - May 7, 2022

The release of the proposed draft of the United States Supreme Court’s opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was, to be sure, a spoiler alert of sorts. For one thing, appellate court opinions are not supposed to be leaked.  The process of opinion writing is tedious:  Proposed drafts are circulated to the members of the court; […]


Protecting our environment? Not really.

By: - April 13, 2022

George Ochenski’s recent essay graphically describes how we are despoiling our environment for not only ourselves, but also for future generations.  He cites the inefficacy of laws passed to protect our environment, noting that these are jury-rigged by polluters to obfuscate and weaken science-based standards. What laws and rules that are adopted, are not enforced. […]


American Democracy — alive or dead?

By: - April 2, 2022

Our democracy—is it alive, do we still live in a democratic republic, or is our democracy dead, no longer a governance of, by and for the people? How is the American experiment faring?  As it turns out, not so well. On Nov. 22, 2021, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, based in Stockholm, […]


Voting is free speech

By: - March 8, 2022

When we think of freedom of speech, the spoken word is usually what comes to mind. But the First Amendment of the federal Constitution (and, hence, Article II, section 7 of Montana’s Constitution) also protect symbolic speech. Symbolic speech is non-verbal action that clearly conveys a specific message to anyone who sees and reads it. […]