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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court late yesterday to review a case concerning an elections system that dilutes the American Indian vote in the city of Martin, South Dakota.
In the petition, the ACLU argues that a redistricting plan, adopted by the city in 2002, prevents American Indian voters from having an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
In May 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in a divided 7-4 opinion issued by the full panel of judges, declined to block the city's elections system, prompting today's petition.
American Indians make up approximately 45 percent of the city of Martin’s population but the redistricting plan ensures that white voters control all three city council districts.
The following can be attributed to Bryan Sells, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project:
"Everyone deserves an equal voice in the selection of city officials, but under the city of Martin’s redistricting plan, American Indian voters who make up almost half of the city's voting population effectively have no voice in their government. We hope that our nation’s highest court will rectify the discriminatory elections system so that a remedial plan that promotes fairness and a more democratic city government can be put in place."
Attorneys on the case include Sells, Laughlin McDonald and Steven R. Shapiro of the ACLU and Patrick K. Duffy of Rapid City, South Dakota.
A copy of the petition is available online at: www.aclu.org/voting-rights/cottier-v-city-martin-et-al-petition-writ-certiorari