Montana county to appeal Native voting case

Over the objections of tribal members and the lone Indian on the commission, Blaine County, Montana, voted 2-1 to appeal a Native voting rights case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the county's at-large system violated the voting rights of Native Americans on the Fort Belknap Reservation. The system prevented residents from electing a candidate of their choice, the court said.

The county changed its system and Dolores Plumage, a member of the Salish Tribe of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, was elected to the new Indian-majority district in 2002. She voted against appealing the case.

The county is represented by Mountain States Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group that has fought protections for sacred sites. The Foundation formerly employed Interior Secretary Gale Norton. Rebecca Watson, one of Norton's assistant secretaries, helped defend the county in the case prior to joining the Bush administration.

Get the Story:
Blaine commission decides to appeal case to high court (The Great Falls Tribune 10/23)

Get the Decision:
US v. BLAINE COUNTY (April 7, 2004)

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