The Montana Supreme Court’s entryway (Image by Eric Seidle/For the Daily Montanan).
The Montana Supreme Court swiftly and succinctly decided not to vacate a district court judge’s gag order against a Glasgow couple who were in a custody dispute with the state.
A five-justice panel led by Chief Justice Mike McGrath stated on Tuesday, the day after Todd Kolstad and his wife, Krista Cummins-Kolstad, filed an emergency petition with the state’s highest court, that the couple had not provided any proof that Valley County District Court Judge Yvonne Laird had erred in her handling of the child custody case. In addition, the Supreme Court judgment stated that the couple’s potential jail sentence for breaking Laird’s gag order was probably the driving force behind the emergency appeal, even though the court had not found them in contempt.
The Kolstads would have access to all legal defenses to support their position that they shouldn’t be found in contempt, according to the justices, who stated that the process is still ongoing. Furthermore, the judge has not yet issued any conclusions that an appeals court could examine.
The decision sets up a confrontation: the Kolstads will appear before Laird on February 21 in Glasgow at a hearing where they will be required to testify about the reasons behind their decision to break a gag order pertaining to their child’s custody. In addition, they had requested that the state’s Supreme Court have “supervisory control” over the case; however, the court turned down their request.
The Supreme Court’s judgment, which was made public on Tuesday, stated that “firstly, (the Kolstads) provide nothing of record in support of their petition regarding the proceeding or the orders entered by the district court.” “No evidence of a legal error or emergency circumstances has been presented. The parties may seek any post-contempt remedy they deem necessary following the hearing.
The conflict arose between the parents and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services’ Child Protective Services section. The issue has garnered attention on a national and international level, thanks in part to remarks made by Republican governor of Montana Greg Gianforte, who supported the department.
The Kolstad family’s child was taken from their house in August 2023 due to acts and thoughts of suicide. To assist in stabilizing the 14-year-old, the state has located an in-patient psychiatric bed in Wyoming. Although the Kolstads claim that their religious views reject this and view transitioning as sin, their child identifies as male. They have declared that they disagree with the identify of their child.
The Kolstads first turned down a placement in Wyoming out of concern that the state’s medical authorities would support or even start permitting their child to transition. According to suit documents, they informed the Supreme suit that their motivation stemmed from their concern of moving the child to a state without the safeguards, since they felt Montana had shielded families who did not support their children’s transition.
The protection they were aware of was provided by the contentious Senate Bill 99, which forbade families and children from obtaining gender-affirming medical care from licensed practitioners in the state. That statute, though, was overturned and put on hold; it never went into force.
Once the Kolstads started sharing material on social media, a gag order was put in place. Their tale went viral on the Canadian social media platform Reduxx, and they have been featured on national conservative news publications.
According to court documents, the youngster, who is presently residing in a group home in Billings, has been granted interim custody to the state.