San Juan County remedial districts rejected as unconstitutional

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — On July 14, 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 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 July 14 were supposed to correct these illegal district maps, but instead the maps improperly packed Native Americans in districts in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said that it is extremely disappointing that San Juan County continues to draw its political boundaries in violation of federal law in a manner to suppress the Navajo voice.

“San Juan County has been operating under unconstitutional election districts for over 10 years,” she said. “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.” 

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