In January 2014, Wolf Point School District officials conceded voting districts challenged in August 2013 violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. A settlement with the district calls for electing one board member from each of five voting districts to serve on the high school and elementary school boards and one member elected at-large district-wide to serve only on the high school board.

Each of the new single-member districts will have populations that vary no more than 1.54 percent. This is a significant change from the existing system in which members of the majority white voting district have been electing one board member for every 143 residents and those in the majority Native American district have been electing one board member for every 841 residents. The settlement will be implemented over two years.

The ACLU of Montana and the ACLU National Voting Rights Project sued the Wolf Point High School District in U.S. District Court in 2013 on behalf of seven Native American voters whose right to equal representation was being violated by these malapportioned school district voting districts that give some voters greater representation on the school board. The old districts violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act because they deprived Native Americans of the equal right to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice.

Attorney(s)

Jim Taylor (ACLU of MT) Jon Ellingson (ACLU of MT)

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Laughlin McDonald (ACLU Foundation)

Date filed

August 13, 2013

Court

United States District Court, District of Montana, Great Falls Division

Judge

Brian Morris

Status

Victory!

Case number

cv-00065-BMM

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