This November, we face a critical election, in which high levels of participation by Latino voters and their allies everywhere can send a powerful message about the importance of the Latino community and its policy views. Even where there may not be large numbers of Latino voters, we must nonetheless speak out in support of the civil rights principles that we champion. While the hard-fought presidential election has received most of the media and public attention, the importance of the 2012 General Election also lies in critical congressional and legislative races, as well as in important policy measures on the ballot in many states. Today, MALDEF releases its recommended positions on two statewide legislative referendum measures in the Montana general election. MALDEF makes these recommendations because we understand the disproportionate and discriminatory effect of some measures that on their face do not mention race or ethnicity, and because we understand the high costs of litigation challenging unconstitutional laws. I hope that the position endorsements and brief explanations below help you to decide how to vote on these ballot questions. But, however you decide, what is most important is that every eligible voter take the time to decide, and VOTE. Thank you.

Sincerely Yours,

Thomas A. Saenz
President and General Counsel

Montana Legislative Referendum No. 120: AGAINST

This measure would require, with very limited exceptions, parental notification before a physician can perform an abortion on a woman under 16.

LR-120, which would likely face a costly constitutional challenge, intrudes on the health and autonomy rights of young women, with a disproportionate impact and threat to the safety of those who, for any number of reasons, face difficulties in their home and with their parents. Some of these young women will avoid physician assistance at a time when they most need adequate and respectful health care.

Montana Legislative Referendum No. 121: AGAINST

This measure would require government employees to verify citizenship or immigration status before providing any of a number of state services.

LR-121, which would unquestionably attract a costly and likely successful constitutional challenge, would embroil Montana public servants in a costly verification and notification scheme with respect to all applicants for state services. It unnecessarily imposes significant bureaucracy and improperly involves Montana employees in the complicated area of federal immigration regulation.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "law firm of the Latino community," MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund