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Montana Constitution celebrated in Billings

Posted at 10:07 AM, Sep 15, 2022

BILLINGS - Fifty years ago, Montanans voted on a new constitution.

A group talked about the 1972 Constitution at the Billings Public Library on Wednesday afternoon and at MSU Billings Petro Hall at night.

Voters ratified the rewritten Montana Constitution in June of 1972.

"Fifty years and time to take stock and recognize the majesty of the document and how well it has served us and how we have to take care of it," said Marc Racicot, who served as Montana's governor from 1993 to 2001.

Racicot said the old constitution did not make for a strong government and actually served the industrial interests at the time it was written in 1889.

The 1972 Constitutional Convention of 100 citizens, wrote into it a right to privacy, a right to a clean and healthful environment and made the government more open to the people, according to Racicot.

"There were provisions that were placed in the contract that gave the public the right to know virtually everything that takes place in government," Racicot said.

Dorothy Bradley served in the Montana Legislature and was Racicot's Democratic opponent in the 1992 governor's race.

"I told myself this whole year it's time to stop calling this 50-year-old document the new constitution," Bradley said.

Bradley served one of her terms with the old constitution and the rest with the new.

She likes the environmental parts of the 1972 constitution, as well as the right to privacy and the right to participate.

The delegates sat alphabetically, which Bradley said took out partisanship and made for better cooperation.

"If you really believe in something you've got to work together," Bradley said. "And the one thing that held us together more than anything and still should today, is that we all love Montana."

"The Constitution that we presently have is recognized as one of the finest foundational documents, a constitution of any state in America," Racicot said.

"It was written by people who cared about the language and it is as readable as any book that you will pick up," Bradley said.