Montana: Big Sky Country. The Treasure State. The birthplace of Eagle Scout and art house hero David Lynch.
Montana was also a key site in a history of resistance to the influence of money in politics in the early years of the twentieth century, a fact which has now transformed the lonely northwestern state into a beacon for anti-corporate activists, academics, and money-in-politics campaigners.
By virtue of a mostly unknown Montana law passed back in 1912, the state may force another Supreme Court showdown - "Citizens United II" - over the increasingly unpopular campaign finance ruling*.
The story's flown mostly under the radar, so here's a round-up of the who, what, when, why, and how.
- A New York Times editorial from February on the Montana challenge, and why the Supreme Court should overturn Citizens United.
- A recent National Journal piece on why the Montana challenge could fail.
- A KCRW story on Montana, the Supreme Court, and Citizens United, featuring Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, Rick Hasen, UC-LA professor and blogger Eugene Volokh, and Politico writer Dave Levnithal.
- For an opposing view, here's Washington Post columnist George Will's take on the Montana Challenge. Will has been one of the most outspoken writers on the money-is-speech issue.
- Election Law blogger and UC Irvine Professor Rick Hasen on why a Supreme Court challenge of Citizens United may not be the best course of action after all.
- A long piece on the Montana Challenge via the National Law Journal (requires free registration).
* As a handful of notorious big spenders have mutated into convenient poster-children for election year corruption, many - even well-meaning activists who consider themselves well-versed on the issue - still claim Citizens United has yet to have an effect on political campaigns in this country. But if you still had any doubts, check out Rick Hasen's crucial summary of the Center for Responsive Politics research on the astronomical leap in outside spending on campaigns immediately after the Citizens United ruling back in 2010.