The plaintiff appealed the West Virginia Supreme Court's decision in Caperton v. Massey to the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, saying that Blankenship's role in Benjamin's election to the court created an appearance of bias, whether or not there was any real bias. Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the money spent by Blankenship to defeat McGraw was "more than the total amount spent by all other Benjamin supporters, and three times the amount spent by Benjamin's own committee."
While the court has lately been loosening restrictions on campaign financing, its decision in Caperton v. Massey attempted to place limits on the role of money in judicial elections.
In 2009, the West Virginia Supreme Court again took up Caperton v. Massey - and again decided in Massey's favor, this time by an even larger margin, 4 to 1. Brent Benjamin, as directed by the U.S Supreme Court, recused himself.
The long legal battle, meanwhile, and Don Blankenship's long shadow in West Virginia, became the basis for John Grisham's novel "The Appeal." And Blankenship is now channeling his political activism into his Twitter account.
Asked for comment Wednesday, Massey spokesman Jeff Gillenwater said the company was devoting its attention to rescue efforts, and that Blankenship was meeting with families of miners and with government officials.