A voting rights lawsuit involving three American Indian tribes will go back to a federal court in Montana after an appellate panel declined to intervene. The plaintiffs from the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Fort Belknap tribes say three counties should set up satellite voting offices to make up for the long distances they must drive to reach courthouses for early voting or late registration. After a now-retired judge declined to intervene before the 2012 election, the 16 Indian plaintiffs appealed. But a three-judge appeals panel wrote in a Wednesday opinion that the emergency injunction request by the Indians is now moot. They sent the case back to U.S. District Court in Montana for a decision on future elections.
The U.S. Justice Department has sided with the plaintiffs, alleging that retired U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull overlooked the fact that some Indians are denied equal access to voting because they can’t afford to travel up to 150 miles to county courthouses.
Cebull since has retired after forwarding an email with a racist joke about President Barack Obama.
One of the organizers of the lawsuit, Blackfeet tribal member Tom Rodgers, who is also a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., said he hoped county officials will voluntarily choose to set up the satellite offices rather than continue to contest the case.
Full Article: Judges send Indian voting case back to Montana.