History

The ACLU, established in 1920, chartered the Montana affiliate in 1972. In 1980 an office was established in Billings, staffed part-time. Since its inception, the ACLU of Montana has impacted public education, litigation and legislation.

In 1988, Scott Crichton was hired as the ACLU of Montana’s first full-time executive director. In 1989, the ACLU of Montana Foundation was incorporated with the Montana Secretary of State and was granted its 501c3 status by the IRS. In 1991, a full-time administrative assistant was hired. In 1997, the staff expanded to three employees with the addition of a staff attorney.

In 2003, the ACLU moved operations from Billings to Helena. An additional half-time position of intake coordinator was added the next year.

In 2006, the Montana affiliate was selected as one of five ACLU state affiliates for special consideration as part of the Strategic Affiliate Initiative (SAI) to provide additional resources and staffing. Montana was selected because we demonstrated a track record of being ambitious, accountable, collaborative, disciplined and strategic.

Today we have 10 employees at two offices – one in Helena and another in Missoula. In addition, two staff members work at satellite locations in Bozeman and Billings. Our staff includes our executive director, legal director, staff attorney, paralegal/intake coordinator and development director in Missoula; our public policy director, communications director and office manager in Helena; and our deputy director and LGBT advocacy coordinator in the field.

Historic Litigation

Langford, 1995 (litigation continues): Class action suit on behalf of inmates at MT State Prison following 1991 riot, challenging numerous areas of mistreatment, including lack of medical care, training, rehabilitation and work programs, and failure to comply with ADA.

Old Person, 1996 (further legislation 2003): Fought to create majority minority legislative districts to see that Indian voting strength was not diluted in a statewide redistricting plan.

Snetsinger, 2004: Legal victory that established access to health insurance for same-sex partners of Montana University System employees.

White et. al., 2005 (monitoring continues): Suit brought alleging widespread unconstitutional deficiencies in the public defender system. Settlement led to systemic reform to create for the first time a statewide public defender system.