Case Details


Review Of Ballot Initiative

Filing State



Montana Supreme Court




Montanans Opposed to I-166 v. State of Montana, 365 Mont. 520; 285 P.3d 435 (Mont. 2012).


Attorney general’s review of ballot initiative was limited to its legal sufficiency, not its substantive provisions.

Case Description

Under Montana law, an initiative is submitted to the secretary of state, who in turn submits it to the attorney general for review. The attorney general’s review is limited to determining the sufficiency of the ballot statements and a review of the ballot issue for legal sufficiency, e.g., whether the language is clear, and whether the summary statement of the initiative is no more than 100 words. Under Montana statutes, the legal sufficiency review specifically “does not include consideration of the substantive legality of the issue if approved by the voters.” Opponents of an initiative brought an original action in the state supreme court asking the court to find that the attorney general should have barred it from the ballot. The supreme court held that the petitioners “seek to have this Court require that the Attorney General undertake precisely the substantive legal review that is excluded by law. By statute, the Attorney General had no power to review the substantive legality of I-166. The petition does not allege nor does this Court find that the petition was legally insufficient as to the requirements for submission of a proposed ballot issue.”