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Native Vote 2024. The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation) is criticizing a move by the state of North Dakota to vacate a recent court victory in a redistricting case involving its reservation.  

In a 180-degree turn, the state, which had previously sided with the tribe in defending a subdistrict for the Fort Berthold Reservation, is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the decision.  

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The case stems from the 2021 redistricting process, where the Republican-controlled legislature  created a subdistrict within District 4 that followed the reservation’s boundaries. The creation of House District 4A helped ensure Native voters from the MHA Nation would have fair representation in future elections.  

But a lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the new subdistrict, arguing that it violated the Equal Protection Clause. The MHA Nation intervened in the case, siding with the state in arguing that the subdistrict was necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act and to ensure Native representation.  A federal district court agreed, dismissing the lawsuit last fall. 

Then, in a surprising turn of events, North Dakota filed a motion with the Supreme Court to vacate the lower court’s decision. The state argues that the court did not address whether attempts to comply with Voting Rights Act can supersede the Equal Protection Clause.  

North Dakota’s Attorney General Drew Wrigley said the state’s decision to file its motion is an attempt to gain clarity on how legislative district lines can be drawn to comply with the both Voting Rights Act and the Constitution, according to a story in the North Dakota Monitor. 

“We opposed this unconscionable change of position when the Attorney General raised it with us, and we oppose it now,” MHA Nation Chairman Mark Fox said in a statement. “MHA Nation was right to intervene in this suit, as, once again, it becomes apparent that our Tribe must forcefully act to protect our own interests.” 

The tribe has filed a motion to dismiss the state’s appeal. The MHA Nation is represented by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), Campaign Legal Center, and The Law Office of Bryan L. Sells, LLC.

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