The Salt Lake Tribune shares the story of what happens when people who have benefitted from gerrymandering for years suddenly find out they won’t be able to do it anymore. It’s another case of the adage:
“When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”
In San Juan County, the officials actually have the nerve to argue that white voters are being discriminated against in a country that holds a majority of American Indian people. White residents have always controlled the county commission and school board.
U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby ordered the boundaries redrawn last year, long after The Navajo Nation initially filed suit in January 2012, alleging that San Juan County violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act via discrimination – preventing fair representation by the Navajo people.
Bernard Grofman, a professor of political science at the University of California, Irvine, was appointed to redraw the lines, which now more accurately represents the population of Native Americans. The county is 50 percent American Indian and 47 percent white, “according to the most recent data.” His district lines were created based on census geography and attempted “not to divide communities with boundary lines.”
Jesse Trentadue, a Salt Lake City-based attorney wanted Shelby to start over and scrap the new maps, saying:
“It doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Trentadue told the judge:
“The results, in my mind, are suspicious. He [the expert] has the burden to show how he reached those results without taking race into account.”
But Trentadue revealed that politics and race were both parts of his problem with the maps, saying that Navajos vote for Democrats and that “whites vote Republican.”
Judge Shelby said that Trentadue is the one who has the burden to prove “long-standing discrimination against white voters.” Considering that at no time have the Navajos had fair representation, the odds of proving discrimination are slim to nothing.
It looks like Native Americans will have more accurate representation in the near future.
Currently, the Navajo are represented by Rebecca Benally, the first elected woman in San Juan Country. She opposed the establishment of the Bears Ears National Monument, which President Donald Trump recently decided to scale back by 85 percent, trimming off 2 million acres.
— Rebecca M. Benally (@RM_Benally) June 20, 2017
Running counter to Benally’s stance, the Navajo Nation is promising a lawsuit against Trump for his decision.
Navajo President Russell Begaye said:
The decision to reduce the size of the monument is being made with no tribal consultation. The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears. The reduction in the size of the monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision.”
Begaye blasted Trump for his racial slur when he outrageously brought up Sen. Elizabeth Warren and referred to her as “Pocahontas” at a ceremony honoring the Navajo code talkers.
Featured image: Via YouTube Video.