Montana Constitution co-author Bob Campbell remembered

Lisa R. Parker

Tributes poured in Wednesday for Bob Campbell, who as a delegate to the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention wrote the document’s provisions for the appropriate to privateness and the proper to a clean and healthful natural environment.

Campbell died Tuesday evening in Missoula. He was 81 and died of purely natural leads to immediately after struggling from dementia.

He also co-authored with delegate Mae Nan Ellingson this broadly praised preamble to the point out Constitution:

“We the persons of Montana grateful to God for the silent beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and needing to strengthen the top quality of lifestyle, equality of prospect and to protected the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and create this structure.”

Jon Ellingson, a retired Missoula law firm, praised the ideal to privacy that his shut pal Campbell included to the Constitution. It reads: “The suitable of person privacy is critical to the properly-being of a totally free society and shall not be infringed upon devoid of the demonstrating of a compelling condition desire.”

Bob Campbell signals the proposed structure on March 22, 1972, on the closing day of the Constitutional Convention. With him is fellow delegate Jean Bowman, who was elected Con-Con secretary.

“That is so profound and has so numerous implications to public policy that I hope our court can flesh out in greater detail in the coming years,” Ellingson mentioned “With the upcoming challenge to abortion legal rights, it is a bulwark in opposition to the infringement of a woman’s appropriate to privacy to make her have selections about her physique.”

Just after to begin with failing, Campbell lastly succeeded in inserting the appropriate to a clean and healthful setting in the Constitution.

“What an enduring legacy he’s remaining to the state,” claimed Anne Hedges, director of plan for the Montana Environmental Facts Center. “Very several men and women get to have that degree of impact on a condition and its foreseeable future. Right after the Anaconda Co. had experienced its way with the state of Montana, it was so important for the delegates to stand up for the environment and make it a fundamental appropriate that we all profit from.”

For the duration of the discussion, Campbell contended that the environmental provision the greater part experienced supported was as well weak. He urged delegates to picture going for walks down the streets of their hometowns and being requested by an individual what they experienced finished for the ecosystem.

The constitutional conference transcript shows Campbell telling fellow delegates: “Under the the greater part proposal, you will have to seem them in the eye, knowing you spent all the money to occur more than in this article to do one thing they were being interested in, and say, ‘Yes, we the persons in Montana at the convention decided to have 1.’ What is he likely to say? ‘You have resolved to have an setting. Perfectly, is not that wonderful. We presently obtained one.’”

Following Campbell’s before attempt unsuccessful, convention President Leo Graybill despatched a observe to Campbell at his desk urging him to attempt once again. This time, late at night time, it passed.

“No one particular liked the Montana Constitution and did far more to promote its knowing than Bob Campbell.”

Constitutional Convention delegate Mae Nan Ellingson

Rick Applegate, who was the analysis staffer for the convention’s Invoice of Rights Committee, claimed Campbell had a way of generating people today at ease talking about these concerns since of “one, his individuality and two, the man was wicked intelligent.”

“He experienced a depth of comprehending of these troubles that served him have the working day,” Applegate said.

For the upcoming 50 years soon after the Montana Structure was narrowly ratified by voters, Campbell grew to become its main promoter and advocate. He handed out hundreds, if not hundreds, of copies of the Constitution, printed by the secretary of state’s place of work, to pupils, legislators, seniors, men and women on the road and everyone else. He autographed all of them.

“The ways in which he advocated and elevated the Structure are legendary and reflect his vitality, his dedication and his creative imagination,” claimed Evan Barrett of Butte, a historian who serves on the government committee of the Montana Constitutional Convention Celebration Committee.

“No a single loved the Montana Constitution and did extra to encourage its being familiar with than Bob Campbell,” retired lawyer Mae Nan Ellingson said. 

Campbell consistently spoke about the Constitution to school and college classes on Law Working day.

Anthony Johnstone, a professor who teaches constitutional regulation at the University of Montana, recalled in his forthcoming ebook about the Montana Constitution meeting Campbell in a classroom convened in a truck trailer in the vicinity of Boulder.

“It was my first Law Day, with the Equal Defense Clause as our subject matter, and I did not know he would be my co-teacher till he showed up and commenced passing out signed copies of the Montana Constitution,” Johnstone wrote. “There was small for me to do but to sit back again and hear Bob’s tales deliver the conference to lifestyle for the learners, the teacher, and me. Numerous times since, Bob has done the very same in my classroom, and just like all those Jefferson County Superior School students, the law pupils turned speedy followers of this not likely constitutional celebrity, lining up for autographs right after class.”

Campbell was an early supporter of legalizing marijuana and defended some persons arrested on drug fees.

Campbell also experienced a quirky facet. He usually roamed the halls of the Capitol and downtown Missoula and Helena distributing funny bumper stickers and buttons, copies of national political cartoons and phony $1 million expenditures. He structured debates at Bannack, Montana’s initial territorial cash.

“Bob arranged (forcefully enlisted) a group of us to discussion every single summer time at Bannack Days regardless of whether gals should have the vote,” stated previous legislator Dorothy Bradley. “It was, of program, 1 of the most hilarious occasions we at any time experienced. And, of class, the women of all ages normally dropped since we couldn’t vote — right until the dance corridor ladies joined us and threatened the adult men.”

Robert J. Campbell was born Dec. 21, 1940, to James D. and Verna Beck Campbell in Sidney. After finishing high university in Sidney, he acquired degrees in pharmacy in 1963 and law in 1967, both of those from the University of Montana. He applied to hand out gag company playing cards that claimed, “For your capsules, and wills, see Campbell.”

Campbell experienced a private regulation apply in Missoula and later on worked in Helena on the authorized staff of the Montana Department of Labor and Marketplace and as a hearing officer for the condition Workers’ Compensation Courtroom. He returned to Missoula when he retired. 


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He married Mary Ann Marsh in 1963. The few later divorced. They experienced two kids, T.J. Campbell, senior customer account manager for Course Motion Capital of New York Town, and Elizabeth Campbell, an associate professor of historical past at the College of Denver. 

He had two grandchildren.

A memorial company is established for 2 p.m. June 17 at Yard City Funeral Residence in Missoula. It will observe an celebration in the Capitol in Helena on June 15 and 16 to rejoice the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Constitutional Conference and the ratification of the Constitution. 

Close friends are hoping to elevate money to build at the College of Montana a “For This and Future Generations” award for exceptional composing on Montana constitutional regulation by a graduating law college student. If adequate funding is obtained, the award may well be endowed. Checks may well be mailed to the UM Foundation, P.O. Box 7159, Missoula, MT 59807 or provided on the net at Note in the opinions discipline that the reward is in memory of Bob Campbell and may be designated to the “For This and Future Generations Award.”

Editor’s note:  Johnson covered Campbell at the 1972 Constitutional Convention.

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