2nd lawsuit targets North Dakota tribal subdistricts
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A second lawsuit has been filed opposing the Legislature’s creation of state House subdistricts encompassing American Indian reservations in North Dakota, alleging that the consideration of race is unconstitutional.
The Bismarck Tribune reports attorneys for North Dakota Republican Party District 4 Chairman Charles Walen, of New Town, and District 9 GOP chairman candidate Paul Henderson, of Calvin, filed the federal lawsuit Wednesday, alleging subdistricts “are racial gerrymanders in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The Republican-controlled Legislature during its special session last fall approved a new map of legislative districts, based on updated census data. The map includes the new House subdistricts for the Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain Indian reservations.
Lawmakers said the subdistricts meet population criteria of the federal Voting Rights Act. Proponents said the subdistricts will give Native American communities better chances to elect their own members to the Legislature.
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Another lawsuit filed earlier this month by the Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain tribes also opposes the subdistricts.
Turtle Mountain argues the split House district “packs” tribal members into a single subdistrict on its reservation, while diluting their vote in the non-reservation subdistrict. Spirit Lake alleges the new redistricting map dilutes American Indian voters on and near its reservation.