Saturday, July 20, 2019

Brophy hits bump in quest for commission seat

Attorney General’s Office says residency requirement is not unconstitutional

The state of Montana is fighting Cliff Brophy’s quest to run for a county commission seat in a district he has not lived in for the required amount of time.
In a lawsuit filed by Brophy in November 2017, he is seeking a judge’s help to allow him to run in District 3 by declaring the 2-year residency requirement as unconstitutional. Brophy only recently moved to Park City, which falls in District 3. State law mandates that a county commission candidate must live within the district for a minimum of two years immediately before the general election.
In court documents filed in late December, the Montana Attorney General’s Office said the 2-year residency requirement does not violate “equal protection classes” of state or federal constitution, nor is it unconstitutional on its face.
The response covers all the respondents in the case, which include AG Tim Fox, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and Stillwater County Clerk & Recorder Heidi Stadel.
District Judge Blair Jones recused himself from the case, which was then assigned to District Judge Randal Spaulding. A ruling has not yet been issued.

In the lawsuit, Brophy announced he intends to retire from law enforcement when his current term expires in 2018 and run for the District 3 county commission seat in the 2018 June primary election.
That district is currently represented by Commissioner Maureen Davey, who is not seeking re-election.
Brophy’s argument against the law is that other elected offices, such as state legislators and city council candidates, have “much less restrictive durational residency requirements,” according to court documents.
For example, the residency requirement for state legislators is one year, and just six months prior to the general election if the county contains two or more districts, according to the suit. City council candidates are subject to a 60-day duration residential requirement.
Those differing requirements are disproportionate and therefore “unconstitutional on its face,” according to court documents.
Brophy also argues that his 37 years with the sheriff’s office and the fact that he has been elected seven times is evidence of his serious commitment to the community.