2013 Jeannette Rankin Civil Liberties Awards
Honoring Bozeman Attorney Jim Goetz
and Retired Montana Supreme Court Justice James Nelson
Saturday, December 7
Museum of the Rockies
600 W. Kagy Boulevard
$20 in advance, $25 at the door
(Contact Katy at 443-8590 for information about "living lightly" tickets.)
Jim Goetz is widely recognized as one of Montana's preeminent constitutional litigators. He has stood up for individual rights and liberty in innumerable cases since first admitted to the bar in 1969. What many people don't know, however, is that he was one of the key players in establishing the Montana ACLU affiliate back in 1972. He helped start the statewide organization (up to that time there were chapters in Missoula, Helena and Great Falls) by serving on the board of directors as a legal advisor. He succeeded Bob Campbell as the national board representative during the time when Ira Glasser became ACLU's executive director in 1979. The ACLU has come a long way since those early days, but not surprisingly, a lot of the issues of concern in the ‘70s still concern civil libertarians today.
The Hon. Justice James Nelson is no stranger to those who embrace the right to privacy and who have followed the evolution of law over the past decades. During his nearly 20 years as a justice on the Montana Supreme Court, Nelson was (and, in retirement, remains) an outspoken advocate for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In 1997, he authored the landmark decision, Gryczan v. State, which declared Montana's felony sodomy statute an unconstitutional violation of the plaintiffs' rights of individual privacy which encompasses intimate sexual conduct between two consenting adults of the same sex. The ruling flew in the face of the anti-gay mentality prevalent in Montana's legislature at the time and was cited seven years later by the United States Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas which struck down anti-sodomy laws nationwide.