South Dakota Redistricting Cases:  the 1990s

In the Matter of the Construction of Article III, § 5, of the South Dakota Constitution, 464 N.W.2d
825 (S.D. 1991)

A question was presented by the Governor to the justices of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held that, under constitutional amendments governing legislative apportionment, which eliminated any role of
the Governor in the redistricting process, an opinion on whether senatorial districts had to be uniformly
split into single-member house districts would be an advisory opinion to the redistricting preparation
committee of the Legislature, which was outside the authority of the Supreme Court.

United States  v. South Dakota, No. ________ (D. S.D., complaint filed Mar. 28, 2000)

South Dakota has 35 legislative districts, each of which elects one senator and two representatives.  Before the 1990 census, the two representatives were elected at large to represent the entire legislative district.  In the 1991 redistricting, District 28 in the north central part of the state was split into two House districts.  District 28A included the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation and the South Dakota portion of the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation and had a majority American Indian population.  In 1996, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900 (1995), limiting the use of race in drawing district lines, the Legislature eliminated the two single-member districts.  The U.S. Department of Justice sued, alleging that the intent and effect of eliminating District 28A was to discriminate against Native American voters in the district in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

State Contact

Reuben D. Bezpaletz
Chief, Research & Legal Services
Legislative Research Council
500 E. Capitol Avenue
Pierre, SD 57501-5070
605/773-3251 voice
605/773-4576 fax

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This page is maintained by the Redistricting Task Force for the National Conference of State Legislatures
Update:  April 25, 2000 (psw)