A Past and Future of Judicial Elections: The Case of Montana

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J. App. Prac. & Process, Vol: 16, Issue: 1, Page: 47

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Johnstone, Anthony
Election Law; Judges
article description
This article searches for lessons from Montana’s experience for the future of American judicial elections. Part II considers the origin of judicial elections and history of reforms in Montana, which is marked both by substantial worries about outside political intervention in state courts and by several innovative responses to it. Part III reviews the practice established by Montana’s reformed model of judicial selection over the past four decades. Part IV examines the Montana Supreme Court’s engagement with Citizens United, followed by a close analysis of an election held in its aftermath: the hardfought 2014 campaign between incumbent Justice Mike Wheat and challenger Lawrence VanDyke. Part V suggests some preliminary conclusions about the meaning of Citizens United and other recent legal developments for judicial elections in the states, and how states might respond.