Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montana has three separate and distinct branches of government, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial; each is empowered by the Montana Constitution with certain specific powers.

When one branch leaves its lane to interfere with another branch, it’s called abuse of power, and that’s exactly what State Senate President Jason Ellsworth (R-Hamilton) is accusing the Montana Supreme Court of doing.

Senator Ellsworth says Montana's Courts are 'Out of Control'

In a press release issued on Tuesday, Ellsworth’s office stated “simply put, Montana’s courts are out of control. They’re seizing power that doesn’t belong to them and undermining our constitutional system of checks and balances. Multiple district court judges are also attempting to take the law into their own hands. The Legislature must address this systematic overreach and restore the balance of power within our government that Montana’s Constitution demands.”

I spoke with Senator Ellsworth on Tuesday afternoon about a new committee being created to address that issue.

“I and 26 other senators have penned a letter going over the unconstitutionality of one of the recent rulings (of the Montana Supreme Court),” began Senator Ellsworth. “Of course this continues to happen. We had the ballot initiative where they're trying to change language and actually circumvent the legislative process of our interim committee looking at that and then being able to weigh in, whether to oppose or approve legislatively on the ballot.”

Ellsworth said each Branch of Government should 'Stay in its Own Lane'

Ellsworth said he is focused on getting each branch of government to “stay in their own lane”.

“The Supreme Court doesn't have ultimate power; just like we don't have ultimate power, and just like the executive (branch) doesn't,” he said. “We have different responsibilities, and each one of us takes those responsibilities and the constitutionality of the oath of the office that we swear very seriously. The judicial should not be legislating and should be staying away from these policy decisions. So, I hope we get there. I can tell you this. As President of the Senate I'm committed to make sure that happens, and I know my senators are, too.”

Ellsworth also told me that his goal is to restore each branch of state government to its proper function.

“Everybody stays in their lanes,” he said. “That's what the citizens expect. We're not going to turn into Washington D.C. and I refuse to sit on the sidelines as President of the Senate and allow these things just to continue. Not under my watch.”

The press release states, “Ellsworth is appointing Republican senators Barry Usher (Yellowstone/Musselshell), Steve Fitzpatrick (Great Falls), Tom McGillvray (Billings), Steve Hinebauch (Wibaux), Wendy McKamey (Great Falls), Carl Glimm (Kila), Chris Friedel (Billings), Mark Noland (Bigfork), and Daniel Emrich (Great Falls) to the committee. Ellsworth is consulting with Senate Minority Leader Pat Flowers about Democratic members of the select committee. Additional non-voting committee members may also be added. Ellsworth will serve as the select committee’s chair and Usher will serve as vice chair.”

READ MORE: Missoula Property Tax Bills are Causing Some Confusion

Read the Response from the State Democratic Party Below

I have reached out to Robyn Driscoll, Chair of the Montana Democratic Party for a response to Ellsworth’s efforts. Her reply is below.

"While State Senator Jason Ellsworth and the Republican leaders are busy making noise and fretting over the political ramifications of lost court cases, everyday Montanans are worrying about how they'll pay the bills as the cost of living in Montana continues to soar under Republican leadership.

Perhaps Republican leaders would be better off focusing on bread-and-butter issues, like addressing Gianforte and the Republican super majority's record high property taxes, the housing crisis, and helping the tens of thousands of Montanans who have lost their health insurance under Gianforte's watch get their coverage back."

LOOK: States with the most people earning $1 million or more

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Gallery Credit: Elisa Fernández-Arias

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