The Montana Republican Party’s lawsuit to force a “closed primary” election to choose its candidates is going to trial, a federal judge ruled Monday – but he refused to block the 2016 June primary until the issue is settled. U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Great Falls said “factual questions” remain on whether non-Republicans consistently vote in GOP primaries in Montana and somehow influence the outcome, against the wishes of actual Republicans. “Those issues must be resolved at trial,” Morris said, rejecting requests by both the party and the state to resolve the case on written arguments.
Matthew Monforton, an attorney representing state GOP county central committees, said late Monday he’ll appeal Morris’ ruling denying an injunction to block the June 2016 primary while the case is resolved. Monforton said the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could just resolve the case or order the Montana Legislature to establish a new system.
Under Montana’s 100-year-old system, any voter can choose in which party primary to vote on election day in June, and help choose that party’s general election candidates.