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Voter Rights

Montana Judge Who Forwarded Racist Obama Email Denies Native American Tribes Easy Access to Polls

By “Scarlet Raven”

Here’s an update from my earlier diary about the lawsuit filed on behalf of 15 plaintiffs and the issue of 120-mile round-trip required to participate in early voting in Montana.

On October 31st, US District Judge Richard Cebull, who earlier this year admitted he forwarded the racist email comparing African Americans to dogs and implying that President Obama’s mother had sex with animals, show down the request from Native Americans requesting that voting officials set-up satellite polling stations on Indian Reservations and rural areas of Montana.

As many of you recall, Cebull’s “joke” email sent from his courthouse chambers had the punchline of:

    A little boy said to his mother, “Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?”
His mother replied, “Don’t even go there, Barack!  From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!”
Cebull implied in his rulling that the case was not strong enough to warrant emergency action:
"I'm not arguing that the opportunity is equal for Indian persons as it is to non-Indians," Cebull said. "Because of poverty, because of the lack of vehicles and that sort of thing, it's probably not equal. However, you have to prove … that they can't elect candidates of their choice."
The US Justice Department has weighed in on this case in favor of the plaintiffs and they have sent in documents supporting the Tribal plaintiffs, this will not be completed in time for this election but after talking with lead attorney for the Native Americans, he hopes to have an expedited appeal completed by the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals before Christmas.  The appeal is being bolstered by a University of Wyoming geography professor who argued that the Tribes are in an unfair disadvantage due to this ruling.

In a strange twist,  Judge Cebull announced he was stepping down as Chief Federal Judge for Montana next year, not before issuing this slap in the face to Native Americans!  Whoever is president next year will be appointing a replacement to this obviously racist judge.  Cebull’s conduct is being reviewed by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

Progressives are going to have to work their butts off in Montana to keep Senator Tester in office, as I wrote previously about the importance of the Native vote helping Tester to score a 3,652 vote victory over GOP’s Conrad Burns in the 2006 US Senate race.  Tester earned over 80% of the vote on Indian Reservations and will need a strong turn-out to defeat GOP Congressman Denny Rehberg.

Tester is working his butt off, recently completing a 4-day, 1,700 mile campaign swing to connect with voters across the State.  The polls show the candidates in a razor thin race with each campaign claiming to have a point or two lead.

The GOTV effort in Indian Country and the National Congress of American Indians will be put to the test in Montana, North Dakota and Wisconsin in tight U.S. Senate races where they could tip the scale to an extension of the Democratic majority.

Theron “Scarlet Raven” Thompson is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate (Dakota Sioux) of the Lake Traverse Reservation.  He publishes articles on Tribal Issues, Energy, Economic Development, Business, Gaming, and Marketing.  He can be reached at and his blog is

Originally posted to scarletraven on Fri Nov 02, 2012 at 02:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by Native American Netroots, Montana Kossaks, and RaceGender DiscrimiNATION.


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