|| Blaine County, Montana is a very rural, sparsely populated county along the international border with Canada. In keeping with state law, Blaine County elects its Commissioners at large. The U.S. Department of Justice, specifically the Civil Rights Division and its Acting Assistant Attorney General, Bill Lann Lee, charged that Blaine County had violated the Voting Rights Act because Native Americans who live in the County have been unable to elect Native Americans as Commissioner. The Justice Department, without producing any proof of racially polarized voting patterns, demanded that Blaine County create special districts to ensure the election of Native Americans. When Blaine County demanded that the Justice Department demonstrate the truth of its allegations, the Justice Department refused and, instead, filed a lawsuit on November 16, 1999. On January 30, 2001, Blaine County filed a motion for summary judgment asserting that Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional, to which the United States responded, to which Blaine County filed a reply brief. On May 17, 2001, District Court Judge Molloy recused himself and reassigned the case to the Honorable Philip M. Pro, U.S. District Judge for the District of Nevada. Oral arguments were held on July 6, 2001, regarding Blaine County's motion for summary judgment. On August 1, 2001, that motion was denied. A two week trial began on October 9, 2001, in Great Falls, Montana, following the filing of memoranda of law and proposed finding of fact and law, concluding on October 18, 2001. Post-trial briefs were filed in early January 2002.
On June 8, 2001, the motion by the ACLU to intervene was denied; the ACLU has both appealed the ruling and filed a new complaint to initiate its own lawsuit. (See McConnell, et al., Blaine County, Montana, et al.) On November 13, 2001, Blaine County filed its response brief at the Ninth Circuit; subsequently, the ACLU filed a reply brief. Oral arguments were held on April 4, 2002. On June 6, 2002, the Ninth Circuit upheld the District Court's ruling.
On March 20, 2002, the District Court ruled that Blaine County had violated the Voting Rights Act. The ACLU has moved to intervene in the remedy phase of the case. Blaine County did not object to the ACLU intervening for that purpose but objected to the ACLU intervening for the liability phase of the case, including any appeal by Blaine County. On June 4, 2002, the District Court approved the redistricting plan submitted by Blaine County and ordered a special election in the newly created minority-majority district.
On June 4, 2002, the District Court approved the redistricting plan submitted by Blaine County and ordered a special election in the newly-created minority-majority district. On July 12, 2002, Blaine County filed its notice of appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On August 2, 2002, Blaine County filed a motion for a stay of the District Court's decision pending appeal, to which the United States responded, to which Blaine County replied. On September 3, 2002, the Ninth Circuit denied that motion. On January 15, 2003, Blaine County filed its opening brief to which the United States responded, to which Blaine County replied. Oral arguments took place on November 4, 2003, in Seattle, Washington. On April 7, 2004, the Ninth Circuit rejected all of Blaine County's arguments and upheld the District Court's decision. Blaine County filed a petition for rehearing en banc on May 24, 2004, to which the United States responded. On September 1, 2004, the Ninth Circuit denied Blaine County's petition.
Blaine County filed a petition for U.S. Supreme Court review on December 6, 2004, to which the United States filed its opposition, to which MSLF replied.