Helena, MT; March 12, 2024: Today, Pacific Legal Foundation filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Do No Harm, an association of medical professionals, to stop Montana’s unlawful consideration of race and gender in appointments to the state medical board.

In Montana, medical practitioners are under the purview of the Montana Board of Medical Examiners, and the board requires 12 members. All must meet residency, licensing, experience, and legal requirements. Other requirements, however, have nothing to do with medicine and everything to do with race and gender.

State law requires Montana’s governor to appoint all medical board members. In 1991, in pursuit of gender and racial balance, Montana legislators directed the governor to also “take positive action to attain gender balance and proportional representation of minorities … to the greatest extent possible” when making appointments to all boards, commissions, and councils in the state.

“Requiring the governor to consider the race and gender of candidates for the medical board is demeaning, patronizing, un-American, and unconstitutional,” said PLF attorney Caleb Trotter. “Assuming that candidates bring diverse perspectives based on nothing other than their gender or race, treats individuals as faceless members of a group based on their immutable characteristics.”

Represented by Pacific Legal Foundation at no charge, Do No Harm is fighting back. Its federal lawsuit challenges the Montana public boards’ race and gender discrimination as violating the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Victory would ensure that all candidates can compete equally to serve on the medical board, regardless of race and gender.

A new report released by PLF found instances in 25 states where such unconstitutional discrimination has been codified. Without action, the problem is likely to worsen. Pacific Legal Foundation is working to defeat discriminatory government boards and commissions in Montana and everywhere else the unconstitutional practice is allowed.

The case is Do No Harm v. Gianforte in U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.


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About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit law firm that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 34 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 17 wins of 19 cases litigated at the U.S. Supreme Court.

If you are on deadline and need immediate assistance, or need a comment from a PLF attorney, please contact our media team at media@pacificlegal.org.