Published July 20, 2017
WINDOW ROCK – On Friday, July 14th the United States District Court for the District of Utah once again ruled in favor of the Navajo Nation and confirmed that the electoral districts of San Juan County are illegally drawn based on race and thus violate the United States Constitution.
In its Decision and Order, the Court stated that the County’s proposed remedial district map “runs afoul of Supreme Court pronouncement against racial classifications in drawing voting districts.” The Court found this with respect to San Juan County Commission Districts 1 and 2 and School Board District 3.
This is the second time the District Court has found the County’s Commission and School Board districts unconstitutional. In December 2015 the Court held the electoral districts for the School Board violated the one-person, one-vote requirement of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. In February 2016 the Court concluded the County had racially gerrymandered County Commission election districts in violation of the Constitution.
The remedial maps rejected by the Court on July 14 was supposed to correct these illegal district maps, but instead the maps improperly packed American Indians in districts in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
“It is extremely disappointing that San Juan County continues to draw its political boundaries in violation of federal law and in a manner to suppress the Navajo voice. The County should use the same energy it puts into maintaining gerrymandered districts into crafting an equitable and fair remedy that gives all citizens of San Juan County an equal voice” said Ethel Branch, Attorney General of the Navajo Nation.
“San Juan County has been operating under unconstitutional election districts for over 10 years. Our Navajo people living in San Juan County have waited too long for a fair and just remedy. The currently-seated San Juan County officials are not the legitimate representatives of the people of San Juan County and should be replaced with all due speed.”
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, Native News Online erroneously used a map of San Juan, New Mexico. The staff apologizes for any confusion this may have presented.