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Tribal leaders say Idaho Supreme Court ruling upholding new legislative district map is ‘discriminatory’

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FORT HALL – The Fort Hall Business Council, the governing body for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, is disappointed in the Idaho Supreme Court ruling about redistricting.

In a ruling Thursday afternoon, the court upheld the state’s new map redrawing Idaho’s 35 legislative districts, finding that four separate lawsuits against the Idaho Commission for Reapportionment failed to show that the way the map split some counties was unreasonable.

RELATED | Idaho Supreme Court upholds new legislative district map

In a lawsuit from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, tribal leaders cite a long history of discrimination within the state and contend that given their long history of being a well-established community, it is “self-evident that the tribes’ interests in unity and maintaining their voting power should receive the same respect, if not more, than Idaho’s counties or cities do during the redistricting process.”

The court acknowledged their argument but ultimately disagreed, saying the law is not written that way.

“We are unable to raise community interests, such as the tribes’, above the counties’ interests, which are protected to a greater degree by the Idaho Constitution,” the court went on to say. “To afford the tribes the heightened status they seek, an amendment to the state constitution would be required.”

Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Devon Boyer says this ruling is racially discriminatory because it does not recognize the organization’s “tribal sovereignty.”

“They need to recognize our unique status as Idaho tribes and reservations,” Boyer says in a news release.

Since 2001, the tribes have requested to keep the largest Native American population in Idaho in one legislative district. Over the last 30 years, the reservation has been fractured into three different legislative districts.

“The only way that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are going to feel that we’re properly represented is by making sure that we’re collectively in the same area, with proper representation,” Fort Hall Business Council lead attorney Bill Bacon told EastIdahoNews.com in December.

RELATED | Sho-Ban tribes challenge state redistricting

Boyer says the reservation constituency will continue with a three-way legislative district representation until the 2030 U.S. Census and Reapportionment process.

The new boundaries for Idaho’s legislative districts will be in effect for the May 17 primary election.

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