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Judge rules that Montana's "anti-transgender law" is unconstitutional

On the grounds that it did not meet the “single title rule”
Missoula Transgender law hearing
Posted at 10:50 AM, Jun 26, 2024

MISSOULA — Missoula County District Court Judge Shane Vannatta ruled on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, that Montana Senate Bill 458 — the so-called “anti-transgender bill” — was unconstitutional on the grounds that it did not meet the “single title rule."

“The title of SB 458 does not state that it is a general appropriation bill, and it carried a fiscal note of $0.00,” Judge Vannatta stated in his ruling.

Under the single title rule, there are three exceptions — however, those are for general appropriation bills, bills for the codification of the laws and bills for the general revision of the laws.

The ruling went on to explain that both parties agreed that SB 458 was not a general appropriations bill and therefore is not excluded from the single title rule.

Vannatta went on to explain that the State provided no other legal argument in reference to the single title rule as they did not include that the bill was not codifying any laws.

“SB 458 is not a bill for the ‘codification and general revision of the laws’ of Montana, and its title does not indicate such. Therefore, SB 458 is not exempt from the requirements of Mont. Const. art. V, §11(3).”

Judge Vannatta also ruled that the state did not define “sex” properly in the title as there are multiple definitions generally known for the term “sex”.

The judge also ruled that the title did not indicate that the definitions of the terms “male” and “female” were included in the body, which he ruled were necessary to be included under the single title rule.

The overall ruling from Judge Vannatta was that SB 458 was unconstitutional.

“Plaintiffs bear the burden of proving SB 458 unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt. (Satterlee, ¶ 10). It is not possible for the Court to uphold the constitutionality of SB 458 because Plaintiffs have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the subject of the Bill is not clearly expressed in its title as is required by Mont. Const. art. V, § 11(3).”