Federal Judge Rules North Dakota Redistricting Unlawful for Native American Voters

by Andrew Wright
Airport Protests

A recent ruling by a U.S. District Chief Judge, Peter Welte, declared that the North Dakota Legislature’s approach to redistricting legislative districts, which include two tribal nations, breached the Voting Rights Act. This decision was made after a trial that took place in June in Fargo.

The judge’s verdict, announced last Friday, found that the 2021 legislative redistricting, especially for two districts with House subdistricts, impedes Native American voters from fairly electing their preferred candidates. This act contravenes a significant section of the Voting Rights Act.

Judge Welte has set a deadline of December 22 for the Republican-dominated Legislature to devise a plan to correct this infringement.

The lawsuit, initiated by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Spirit Lake Tribe, claims that the 2021 redistricting map breaches the pivotal 1965 Voting Rights Act. They contend that the current redistricting unfairly consolidates members of the Turtle Mountain tribe into a single House district and excludes the Spirit Lake Tribe from a district with a Native majority.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about North Dakota Redistricting

What was the recent court ruling regarding North Dakota’s redistricting?

A federal judge ruled that North Dakota’s legislative redistricting plan violated the Voting Rights Act by disadvantaging Native American voters in two tribal nations. The ruling, issued by U.S. District Chief Judge Peter Welte, stated that the redistricting impeded Native Americans from electing their preferred candidates.

Who brought the lawsuit against North Dakota’s redistricting plan?

The lawsuit was filed by the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Spirit Lake Tribe. They argued that the 2021 redistricting map was in violation of the Voting Rights Act, claiming it unfairly grouped Turtle Mountain tribal members into one district and excluded the Spirit Lake Tribe from a majority-Native district.

What must the North Dakota Legislature do following the judge’s ruling?

Following Judge Welte’s ruling, the Republican-controlled North Dakota Legislature has been given until December 22 to create and adopt a new plan that remedies the violation of the Voting Rights Act in its redistricting process.

How does this ruling impact Native American voters in North Dakota?

This ruling highlights the infringement of Native American voters’ rights in North Dakota, emphasizing the need for fair representation in legislative districts. It seeks to ensure that Native American communities have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.

More about North Dakota Redistricting

  • North Dakota Redistricting Ruling
  • Voting Rights Act and Native American Voters
  • Turtle Mountain and Spirit Lake Tribes’ Lawsuit
  • U.S. District Chief Judge Peter Welte’s Decision
  • Implications for Native American Voting Rights in North Dakota

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MikeJohnson November 17, 2023 - 9:41 pm

Wow, didn’t realize how serious this redistricting issue was in ND. It’s about time the courts stepped in!

Greg_H November 17, 2023 - 10:15 pm

Honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Voting rights are under attack all over, not just in North Dakota. We need to pay more attention to this stuff.

SarahK November 18, 2023 - 2:43 am

This is huge for the native tribes! Finally, some recognition of their rights, but let’s see if the Legislature actually follows through…


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