The Montana Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled the state Legislature overstepped its authority when it subpoenaed records from the judicial branch without a legislative purpose.
The unanimous ruling caps a months-long legal dispute between the GOP-led Legislature and the judicial branch.
Lawmakers issued the subpoenas after learning about an internal email poll of judges during the session on pending legislation related to judicial functions. Beth McLaughlin, the Montana Supreme Court administrator, had deleted some of the email poll results. Legislators subsequently formed an investigative committee and subpoenaed the communications from McLaughlin and all seven Supreme Court justices.
The Legislature, represented by the Republican Attorney General's Office, had argued the Supreme Court should not be able to rule on the matter of their own subpoenas.
Prior to Wednesday's ruling, the high court had said in orders that lawmakers had attempted manufactured to disrupt the normal judicial process.
This story will be updated.