Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has vetoed a bill that would have banned Montanan officials from cooperating with and “providing material support for” federal agents who attempt indefinite detention. Known as HB 522, this bill would have provided some measure of defense for people living in Montana from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill had transcended party lines, passing both the statehouse and state senate by wide margins and was backed by groups including the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the ACLU, and the Tenth Amendment Center.
But on Monday, Gov. Bullock vetoed the bill, citing ongoing litigation (i.e. Hedges v. Obama) that “may render HB 522 unnecessary.” Of course, if the Obama administration prevails, then HB 522 would become very necessary to restore due process in Montana. The governor lambasted the bill as a measure that would “clutter the Montana code…[and] put our law enforcement officers in an untenable position.” Yet no legal note was attached to the bill. Montana would be fully within its powers to refuse cooperation with federal officials who would seek to enforce the NDAA. As Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center points out, “By using his veto on HB522…Bullock has made his position quite clear. He not only supports indefinite detention, he wants to ENSURE that Montana resources are used to help carry it out.”
Late Tuesday night, the Montana House of Representatives attempted to override the governor’s veto. While the statehouse had originally voted 98-0 in favor of restoring due process, this time around, only 64 representatives voted against indefinite detention—just three votes short of a supermajority to override. Rep. Nicholas, Schwaderer, the freshman Republican who introduced the bill, issued a statement shortly after the House vote: “I am encouraged by the motivation and enthusiasm of liberty loving folks like you all. Although the session is concluding, I am just getting started in my fight. I hope you can continue to fight with me as we go forward.”
UPDATE: The Montana Senate also attempted to override the governor’s veto, but this motion failed, 31-19. Like in the House, the override attempt was a mere 3 votes shy.