Voting Rights Act Matter Involving Indian Vote Dilution

By FindLaw Staff on May 05, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Cottier v. City of Martin, No. 07-1628, concerned a Voting Rights Act action claiming that a city ordinance establishing boundaries for three voting wards within the city diluted the votes of Indians in each ward.  The court of appeals affirmed judgment for defendant, on the ground that the district court did not commit clear error in finding that the plaintiffs failed to meet the third Gingles precondition, i.e., that the white majority in the city voted sufficiently as a bloc to enable it usually to defeat the minority's preferred candidate in city council elections.

As the court wrote:  "This appeal involves a claim that the City of Martin, South Dakota, and several of its officials violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. § 1973(b). The plaintiffs contend that the defendants adopted and maintained an ordinance that impaired the ability of Native American Indians to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice in city elections. Sitting en banc, we conclude that the district court properly dismissed the action in its order of March 22, 2005, which was reversed by a panel of this court. We therefore vacate the court's later judgment of February 9, 2007, and remand with directions to dismiss the action."

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