SPECIAL EVENT: The Need, Construction, and Implementation of the 1972 Montana Constitution

Credit: Montana Historical Society

There are few events in the history of the state of Montana that can equal what happened in the early and mid 1970s to involve and include the citizens of our great state. Great Falls Rising welcomes you to join us for recap and celebration with the folks who made it happen.

Great Falls Rising program on the 50th Anniversary of the 1972 Constitutional Convention: Wednesday, February 23rd at 6:00 pm by Zoom.

6:00 pm: Gerry Jennings, President of Great Falls Rising, welcomes all attendees on Zoom.

6:05 pm:  Former state legislators Dorothy Bradley of Bozeman and Bob Brown of Whitefish will give a snapshot of why the convention was called. Bob Brown will present a brief overview of the 1889 Constitution in contrast to the 1972 Constitution.  He will then illustrate the need for the “new” constitution with a story that occurred while he was serving in the legislature under the “old” Constitution. 

Dorothy Bradley, who served with Bob before and after the Convention and passage of the Constitution, will talk about some specifics of new Constitutional provisions that led to legislative follow-up, intensive interim studies and new laws. 

6:25 pm:  Nancy Leifer, President, League of Women Voters of Montana – what led up to the need for a convention, why the old constitution no longer served, what had changed to make a constitutional convention possible, and the role of LWV, AAUW in passing the referendum that called for a Constitutional Convention.   

6:37 pm:  ConCon historian Evan Barrett of Butte – Process followed in placing the question of a Constitutional Convention on the ballot in 1970; roles of State Sen. Jack McDonald and Harry Mitchell of Great Falls as chair and member of the Montana Constitution Revision Commission; the vote of the people in 1970 calling for the Convention; 1971 Legislative role in establishing the Convention; roles of Alex Blewett and Randall Swanberg of Great Falls as chair and member of the Montana Constitutional Convention Commission in 1971; preparation and research leading to the Convention; 1971 election of 100 delegates (partisan breakout); Convention management and power-sharing decisions that led to a Convention without partisanship; the Constitutional Convention Society  and role of Bob Campbell as Secretary. (Swanberg was later elected as a delegate to the convention.)

6:49 pm:  ConCon Delegate Arlyne Reichert of Great Falls – will discuss the structure of the Constitutional Convention: seating, leadership, who could run for each, role of women (19 ConCon delegates were women). Listen for practical improvements. Special guests included Jeannette Rankin, Charles Lindbergh and John Gardiner of Common Cause. The 1972 Constitution became known as a model document.

7:01 pm:  ConCon Delegate Lyle Monroe of Great Falls – Addition of the Bill of Rights. What do they include? 

7:13 pm:  ConCon Delegate Mae Nan Ellingson of Missoula – Preamble done with ConCon Delegate Bob Campbell of Missoula; discuss Natural Resources and Right to Clean and Healthful Environment.

7:25 pm:  ConCon Delegate Gene Harbaugh of Poplar – passing the Constitution.

7:37 pm:   ConCon Delegate Jerry Loendorf of Helena – We the People–our rights to open and transparent government – our duties.

7:49 pm:  Gerry thanks people for coming and gives brief announcements

7:55 pm:  Special ending!

Zoom information:

Great Falls Rising is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: 50th anniversary of the 1972 Constitutional Convention
Time: Feb 23, 2022 06:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 717 241 2967
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In preparation for the event, you may want to read the Montana Constitution, you can do so here.

The program will be recorded and sent out the following day. To hear an interview with Arlyne and Gerry on KGPR 89.9 FM, click here. Other links may also be coming soon.

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