NAACP attorney withdraws in redistricting case

Feb. 1—ANDERSON — The attorney representing the local branch of the NAACP in the federal lawsuit concerning redistricting against the Anderson City Council has withdrawn.

Last year, Common Cause Indiana, League of Women Voters of Indiana and the local NAACP filed a federal lawsuit alleging the six single-member council districts violated federal law based on the 'one person, one vote' requirement of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Attorneys with the Indianapolis law firm of Bowman & Vlink filed the motion to withdraw from representing the NAACP on Wednesday.

They will continue to represent Common Cause of Indiana and the League of Women Voters of Indiana in the lawsuit.

"Because it is reasonable for counsel to infer that a conflict has arisen or may soon arise among their remaining clients...their withdrawal in this case is required," the filing stated.

The motion to withdraw also states that it appears the position of the NAACP has become incompatible with the other parties involved in the lawsuit.

Larry McClendon, president of the Anderson-Madison County NAACP, said Thursday he is working with the national organization in an effort to hire a new attorney.

"I don't know why they withdrew," he said.

Last month the law firm filed a request with the federal court seeking a summary judgement in the case.

The Anderson City Council in December 2022 voted not to redraw the districts based on the 2020 census.

In the request for summary judgement the plaintiffs want the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Indiana to invalidate the election results from last November in District 3 and District 4.

They are seeking a special election in the two districts after new boundaries have been created to eliminate the deviations in the number of voters.

District 3 is represented by Democrat Greg Graham and District 4 by Democrat Ollie H. Dixon. Both ran unopposed in 2023.

The court document states the Anderson City Council has not drawn up new districts since 2000.

"The undisputed evidence demonstrates that the Council flaunted this constitutional imperative in 2022 and that it has not redistricted in this century," it reads.

In December there was a settlement conference between the parties but no agreement could be reached. Several council members indicated a settlement couldn't be reached because of a disagreement on the number of residents in each of the six districts.

As proposed the settlement agreement would have merged portions of the 6th District represented by Democrat Joe Newman into the 4th District.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.