This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Filed May 23, 2006
McLeod County District Court
File No. C4-04-973
Weinblatt, Luke M. Kuhl, Weinblatt & Gaylord PLC,
Michael Junge, McLeod County Attorney, McLeod County Courthouse, 830–11th Street East, Suite 112, Glencoe, MN 55336 (for respondents McLeod County, et al.)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Stoneburner, Judge, and Harten, Judge.*
Appellant Douglas Krueger brought this declaratory judgment action against respondents City of Hutchinson, city administrator Gary Plotz, McLeod County, and county auditor Cindy Schultz, asking that the district court (1) declare that the county’s 2002 redistricting violated the Minnesota Constitution; (2) enjoin the county from holding any public elections under the 2002 plan; and (3) order the city to adopt new precinct boundaries and the county to adopt new commissioner districts.
Because appellant has raised what is essentially a political gerrymandering claim without proof of impact on a suspect class or fundamental right, we conclude that the district court properly held this to be a nonjusticiable claim that lacks a judicial remedy. We therefore affirm.
D E C I S I O N
Appellant alleges violations of his constitutional rights under Minn. Const., art. I, § 2 (“No member of this state shall be disenfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers.”); art. I, § 3 (“[a]ll persons may freely speak, write and publish their sentiments on all subjects”); art. VII, § 1 (guaranteeing the right to vote to all citizens over the age of 18, subject to certain exceptions).
to vote is a fundamental right under both the federal and state
constitutions. Kahn v. Griffin, 701 N.W.2d 815, 831 (
State and local governments are permitted to enact electoral regulations, which are not direct infringements on the fundamental right to vote. Ulland, 262 N.W.2d at 415. For example, a law that limits the right to vote by absentee ballot, but not the right to vote generally, is not a direct infringement and is thus reviewed under the rational basis standard. See Erlandson, 659 N.W.2d at 733.
Appellant argues that his fundamental right to vote is impaired because the 2002 redistricting, which gave the city majorities of voters in three of five commissioner districts despite the fact that city residents are not a majority in the county, diluted the power of the non-city voter. A classification of city versus non-city, or urban versus rural, is not a suspect classification as is race. See Shaw, 509 U.S. at 650, 113 S. Ct. at 2828 (stating that Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence “always has reserved the strictest scrutiny for discrimination on the basis of race” in light of country’s long and persistent history of racial discrimination). What appellant describes is more akin to a political gerrymander. See Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541 U.S. 267, 271, n.1, 124 S. Ct. 1769, 1773 n.1 (2004) (defining “political gerrymander” as “the practice of dividing a geographical area into electoral districts, often of highly irregular shape, to give one political party an unfair advantage by diluting the opposition’s voting strength”) (quotation omitted)).
In Vieth, a plurality of the Supreme Court
concluded that political gerrymanders present a nonjusticiable issue.
Appellant does not argue that his vote, as compared to other individual votes, is accorded less weight, but rather that his vote as a member of an interest group that he identifies as rural voters is somehow diminished. This court is not able to adjudicate a reasonable remedy to this problem, given the restrictions of the governing statutes and the Constitution. Appellant must seek his remedy in the legislature, which has defined the parameters for creation and division of county commissioner districts.
 Appellant did not challenge the redistricting under Minn. Stat. § 375.025, subd. 1 (2004), and has not raised statutory violations as a basis for reversal.
Vieth was decided under the federal
constitution, the Minnesota Supreme Court answered in the negative the
certified question of whether the state constitution affords greater protection
to voting rights than the federal constitution.