Stopping Anti-Semitism in Montana Courts
A candidate for the Montana Supreme Court says it is time to establish standards to ensure that anti-Semitism doesn't creep its way into the Montana court system.
Cory Swanson is the Broadwater County Attorney, a former Deputy Attorney General, and Iraq war veteran still serving as a colonel in the Montana Army National Guard.
Here's the full guest opinion column from Broadwater County Attorney and Montana Supreme Court candidate Cory Swanson.
Let’s Establish a Standard Against Anti-Semitism in Montana Courts
The horrific terror attack against Israeli on October 7 revealed that antisemitic hatred has a disturbing foothold in the world. Equally troubling is what has been exposed in our own country in the months since: the shocking tolerance (encouragement even) of antisemitic, genocidal hatred on college campuses.Like so many Americans, I was stunned when the heads of three elite Universities testified before Congress and refused to unconditionally condemn calls for genocide against Jewish people. This ugly episode shone a light on the creeping, half-hidden antisemitism that has corrupted many universities and law schools across this country. Students and faculty not only tolerate but actually celebrate words of hatred toward Jewish people that were previously unthinkable in the America where I grew up.The backlash against antisemitism has rightly been swift. Donors have pulled back hundreds of millions of dollars at elite schools. Two University presidents have resigned in disgrace, and others may be forced to follow. And in the legal community, law firms and judges are making a stand by rescinding job offers and clerkships to students found to be radicalized into this new antisemitic movement.I pledge to do the same. I am running for Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court. If elected, I will implement a rigorous screening process to weed out applicants who have participated in calls for anti-Jewish violence, expressed support for terrorist groups, or engaged in antisemitic hate speech.
Clerkships with the Montana Supreme Court are among the most coveted entry legal jobs in our state, providing a springboard to a successful legal career. Many candidates for these positions graduate from elite law schools at or near the top of their class, compete in moot court or law review, and cultivate a support network of similarly-connected students and lawyers. Given these realities, it’s time for lawyers and judges to clearly communicate a standard of behavior for clerks and new hires. Toxic antisemitism may have infected some elite law schools, but it must not be allowed to undermine Montana’s court and legal system.
The vast majority of Americans don’t like what they’re seeing on college campuses. But opinions don’t make change, actions do. I’m establishing this standard of conduct for legal clerks to encourage law schools – the training ground for new lawyers – to foster an environment of tolerance, and to communicate consequences for those who fail to embrace it.
I’m also calling on all the Montana Supreme Court candidates to join me in this pledge. The fact that we have to say these words – Anti-Semitism will not be tolerated on the Montana Supreme Court – signals the seriousness and shame of the moment.
Cory Swanson is the Broadwater County Attorney. He is running for Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court.
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