Montana Law

Your vote doesn’t count as long as black robed activists are occupying the bench.


Helena District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock has thrown out most of a provision passed by voters in 2012 to deny certain state services to illegal aliens.

Sherlock said most of LR-121 was unenforceable and pre-empted by federal law.

LR-121 would have banned illegal aliens from gaining public education, drivers licenses, and other benefits.

In an order issued on Friday, Sherlock let stand one provision of the measure, which calls for the state to notify federal authorities when illegal aliens seek state services.

Sherlock said that the right to regulate immigration is an exclusively federal power, and that the state made up its own definition of “illegal alien.”

“By making up its own definition of ‘illegal alien,’ the State is not only conflict-preempted with the federal system, but also attempts a prohibited regulation of immigration,” Sherlock wrote.

Shahid Haque-Hausrath of the Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance, which brought the suit, said the law was intended to make the state of Montana an unwelcoming place for immigrants. “Striking down this law is a significant victory, and a message that the state has no business trying to regulate federal immigration policy,” he said in a statement.

Sherlock had already granted a partial preliminary injunction against the law, preventing its enforcement, in March 2013.

LR-121 was put on the November 2012 ballot by the Legislature in 2011.