Constitutional Legacy: Bob Campbell is commended for his work on the 1972 Montana Constitution | National News – Natural Self Esteem

HELENA – Honors poured out Wednesday for Bob Campbell, who, as a delegate to the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention, wrote the document’s provisions on the right to privacy and the right to a clean and healthy environment.

Campbell died in Missoula Tuesday night. He was 81 years old and died of natural causes from dementia.

He also co-authored this widely acclaimed preamble to the state constitution with Rep. Mae Nan Ellingson:

“We, the people of Montana, are grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the majesty of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desire to improve the quality of life, increase equality of opportunity, and secure for ourselves the blessings of liberty and future generations ordain and institute this Constitution.”

Jon Ellingson, a retired Missoula attorney, praised the right to privacy that his close friend Campbell had written into the constitution. It states: “The right to privacy of the individual is essential to the well-being of a free society and must not be violated without demonstrating an overriding interest of the state.”

“This is so profound and has so many public policy implications that I hope our court can elaborate in more detail in the years to come,” Ellingson said of a woman’s right to privacy to make her own decisions about her body. “

After initial failure, Campbell eventually got the right to a clean and healthy environment enshrined in the constitution.

“What a lasting legacy he left for the state,” said Anne Hedges, director of policy for the Montana Environmental Information Center. “Very few people have that kind of influence over a state and its future. After the Anaconda Co. won out with the state of Montana, it was so important to the delegates to stand up for the environment and make it a fundamental right that we all benefit from.”

During the debate, Campbell claimed that the majority-supported environmental provision was too weak. He asked delegates to imagine they were walking the streets of their hometowns and someone was asking them what they had done to help the environment.

Minutes of the Constitutional Assembly show Campbell telling other delegates: “After the majority vote, you have to look them in the eye, knowing that you spent all that money to come here to do something they’re interested in, and say, ‘Yes, we the people of Montana decided at the convention to have one.’ what will he say “You have chosen to have an environment. Well, isn’t that wonderful. We already have one.’”

After Campbell’s previous attempt failed, Congress President Leo Graybill sent a note to Campbell at his desk urging him to try again. This time, late at night, it passed.

Rick Applegate, research associate for the Congressional Bill of Rights Committee, said Campbell managed to make people comfortable talking about these issues because “first, his personality, and second, the man was insanely smart.”

“He had a deep understanding of these issues that helped him get through the day,” Applegate said.

Over the next 50 years, after the Montana Constitution was narrowly ratified by voters, Campbell became its leading promoter and advocate. He distributed hundreds, if not thousands, of copies of the Constitution, published by the Office of the Secretary of State, to students, legislators, the elderly, people on the street, and everyone else. He signed them all.

“The way he advocated and promoted the Constitution is legendary and reflects his energy, dedication and creativity,” said Evan Barrett of Butte, a historian who serves on the executive committee of the Montana Constitutional Convention Celebration Committee.

“Nobody loved the Montana Constitution and did more to understand it than Bob Campbell,” said retired attorney Mae Nan Ellingson.

Campbell regularly spoke to high school and university classes about the Constitution on Law Day.

Anthony Johnstone, a professor who teaches constitutional law at the University of Montana, recalls meeting Campbell in a classroom called in a truck trailer near Boulder in his forthcoming book on the Montana Constitution.

“It was my first law day on the Equal Protection Clause, and I didn’t know he was going to be my assistant teacher until he showed up and started handing out autographed copies of the Montana Constitution,” Johnstone wrote. “I had little to do but sit back and listen to Bob’s stories that bring the convention to life for the students, the teacher and myself. Since then, Bob has done the same in my classroom, and just like the students at Jefferson County High School, the law students became quick fans of this unlikely constitutional superstar and lined up for autographs after class.”

Campbell was an early proponent of legalizing marijuana and defended some people arrested for drug offenses.

Campbell also had a quirky side. He often roamed the halls of the Capitol and downtown Missoula and Helena handing out funny bumper stickers and badges, copies of national political cartoons, and fake $1 million bills. He organized debates in Bannack, Montana’s first territorial capital.

“Bob organized a group of us (recruited by force) to debate whether women should have the right to vote at Bannack Days every summer,” said former lawmaker Dorothy Bradley. “Obviously that was one of the funnest times we’ve ever had. And of course the women always lost because we couldn’t vote – until the girls from the dance hall joined us and threatened the men.”

Robert J. Campbell was born on December 21, 1940 to James D. and Verna Beck Campbell in Sydney. After graduating from high school in Sydney, he received a pharmacy degree in 1963 and a law degree in 1967, both from the University of Montana. He used to hand out gag business cards that read, “For your pills and wills, see Campbell.”

Campbell had a private law practice in Missoula and later worked in Helena on the legal staff of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry and as a hearing officer for the State Workers’ Compensation Court. After retiring, he returned to Missoula.

He married Mary Ann Marsh in 1963. The couple later divorced. They had two children, TJ Campbell, a senior client account manager at Class Action Capital in New York City, and Elizabeth Campbell, an associate professor of history at the University of Denver.

He had two grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for June 17 at 2:00 p.m. at the Garden City Funeral Home in Missoula. It follows an event at the Capitol in Helena on 15-16 June to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Constitutional Convention and the ratification of the Constitution.

Friends hope to raise money to endow a For This and Future Generations award at the University of Montana for outstanding writing by a law student on Montana constitutional law. If there is sufficient funding, the award can be endowed. Checks can be mailed to the UM Foundation, PO Box 7159, Missoula, MT 59807, or deposited online at Note in the comments box that the gift is in memory of Bob Campbell and may be for the For This and Future Generations Award.

This story is reprinted with permission from the Montana Free Press. The original story can be accessed here.

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