The majority of cases before the Montana Supreme Court are decided based upon the written briefs submitted by the parties. However, the Court may decide that a case requires further discussion, in addition to what the parties have argued in their written briefs. In such cases, oral arguments are scheduled in open session before the Court. Approximately 15 cases a year are scheduled for oral argument.

Oral arguments are tightly structured and timed. The counsel for each party is allowed limited time to make an argument. The times typically range from 20 to 40 minutes and are set forth by the Court in the order setting oral argument. 

While this format allows the counsel brief opportunity to further develop their arguments, it also gives the Court an opportunity to ask questions of the attorneys on points which the Court needs clarification.

A majority of oral arguments take place in the Montana Supreme Court Courtroom, located at 215 N. Sanders, Helena, Montana. The Court does schedule a few arguments to be heard in different cities around the State. See the list of scheduled oral arguments below.

All oral arguments are open to the public.  

Click here to see list of previous oral arguments 


2024

JULY

DA 23-0575

RIKKI HELD, et al., Plaintiffs and Appellees, v. STATE OF MONTANA, et al., Respondents and Appellants. Oral Argument is set for Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at 9:30 a.m. in the courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Joseph P. Mazurek Building, Helena, Montana.

Live-streamed through the Court’s website at:   http://stream.vision.net/MT-JUD/

In 2020, 16 Montana Youth sued the State of Montana and various state agencies, alleging that certain provisions of Montana’s State Energy Act and the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MAPA) violate their rights under the Montana Constitution by perpetuating the use of fossil fuels and prohibiting State agencies from considering the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions or climate change in their environmental reviews.  The District Court concluded the Youth have standing to pursue this litigation because they suffered past and ongoing injuries from the State’s failure to consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, there is a fairly traceable connection between this failure—which results in greenhouse gas emissions that contributes to climate change—and their injuries, and the injuries are at least partially redressable.  The court further concluded that a statute that eliminated vacatur and injunction as remedies in MEPA cases was an unconstitutional restriction on the rights of citizens.

The District Court ultimately ruled that the MEPA provision that prohibits the consideration of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change violates the right to a clean and healthful environment under the Montana Constitution and the State failed to show that the provision serves a compelling governmental interest.

On appeal, the State maintains that the District Court should not have reached the merits of the case.  It argues the Youth failed to establish standing because MEPA did not cause their injuries and invalidating a provision within MEPA will not redress those claimed injuries.  The State further argues that, at most, the courts can invalidate the MEPA provision that bars consideration of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, but the court cannot affirmatively require State agencies to consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in conducting environmental reviews under MEPA.