Justices said Stearns' track record shows she has the ability to be an effective leader with a nonpartisan approach for the Districting and Apportionment Commission, which also consists of two Democrats and two Republicans. The commission will redraw the state’s political boundaries for the next 10 years following the 2020 Census.
Montana legislative leaders appointed Republicans Dan Stusek and Essman, both attorneys, and Democrats Joe Lamson and Kendra Miller. The four met in May to choose a fifth member to serve as presiding officer. When they failed to reach agreement, the choice fell to the Supreme Court.
A motion failed that would have delayed the vote on a commission chair in order to have more public comment.
Stearns and retired federal Magistrate Judge Carolyn Ostby were nominated, with Stearns receiving the most votes from the justices.