The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gladys Kessler U.S. District Judge
Plaintiffs are Walter J. Rosales and Karen Toggery.*fn1 Defendants are the United States of America, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA" or "Bureau"), and the Interior Board of Indian Appeals ("IBIA" or "Board"). Plaintiffs bring suit under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 ("IRA"), 25 U.S.C. §§ 461-479, and the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701-706, seeking to overturn the following: 1) the August 31, 1996 Secretarial election in which voters approved an amendment to the Jamul Village Constitution to lower the blood-quantum requirement for tribal membership and voter registration from one-half to one-quarter; 2) the October 15, 1996 decision of the Deputy Commissioner of Indian Affairs approving the amendment; 3) the Board's July 29, 1999 decision affirming the Secretarial election; and 4) the Board's March 4, 2003 decision affirming the Deputy Commissioner's approval of the amendment. See Pls.'Opp'n at 6. Plaintiffs seek an order declaring: "1) that the Village [C]onstitution has not been lawfully amended; 2) that the elections of 1997, 1999, and 2001, held by the faction using the lowered blood quantum to determine an individual's qualifications to vote, were not lawful; 3) that the BIA's decision of October 15, 1996, and the IBIA's decisions of July 29, 1999 and March 4, 2003, must be reversed and vacated; and 4) that the Government must recognize the 1997, 1999, and 2001 election of Plaintiffs ... as officers of the Village, pursuant to the terms of the original Village [C]onstitution." Id. at 37.
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment, [#25], and Defendants' Cross-motion for Summary Judgment, [#26]. Upon consideration of the Motions, Oppositions, Replies, and the entire record herein, for the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' motion is denied and Defendants' motion is granted.
A. History of the Jamul Indian Village
The Jamul Indian Village, located in Jamul, California, is a tribal governmental entity of Kumeyaay Indians, recognized by Congress pursuant to the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. The Village was established in 1981 after twenty individuals submitted a proposed Village Constitution to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and petitioned under the IRA to organize as a community of "half-bloods." Rosales v. Sacramento Area Dir., 32 I.B.I.A. 158, 159-160 (1998) ("Rosales I"). The Bureau evaluated the request and concluded that twenty-three individuals were eligible to vote on the proposed charter in a constitutional election.*fn2 Id. at 160. On May 9, 1981, sixteen of the twenty-three eligible individuals voted in the constitutional election and unanimously adopted the proposed charter. Id. On July 7, 1981, the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary approved the Village Constitution. Id.
Under Article III of the original Village Constitution, tribal membership was only available to persons having at least "1/2 degree California Indian blood quantum." Id. The relevant provisions of the Village Constitution provide that all qualified voters of the Village who are eighteen years of age or older comprise the General Council, which is the tribe's governing body. Id. The General Council selects an Executive Committee from its members. Id. All members of the General Council are entitled to vote in tribal elections. Id. Only qualified voters may hold positions on the Executive Committee. Id. Thirty-percent of qualified voters must be present at General Council meetings to constitute a quorum. Id.
B. The 1994 Recall Election
On September 3, 1994, a faction led by Jane Dumas (the "Dumas faction") held an election to recall four Village officials who had been elected in 1992 (the "Hunter faction") and to install replacements for them.*fn3 The Bureau's Superintendent and Area Director refused to uphold the recall election because the Dumas faction had not complied with the Village Constitution's procedural requirements, A.R. 2335-39, and continued to recognize the tribal officials elected in 1992. Id.
Subsequently, the competing factions held separate elections in 1995, and each group claimed to have authority to lead the Village based on the results of their respective contests. The dispute ultimately ended up before the Board. The Board held that it could not lawfully determine which faction's elections were valid, in part, because neither group could verify that only eligible members of the tribe had voted.*fn4 Id. at 166-167.
The Board acknowledged that its decision effectively reinstated the leaders elected in 1992, because that contest was the last election that had not been administratively challenged, and remanded the dispute to the Bureau's Area Director with "a request to assist the Village's actual members in addressing their membership and leadership problems."*fn5 Id. at 168. Plaintiffs are not challenging Rosales I in the case presently before this Court.
C. The 1996 Secretarial Election
In February 1996, the then-recognized Village leaders who had been elected in 1992, Chairman Hunter and Secretary Shaw, requested a Secretarial election to amend the Village Constitution to lower the blood-quantum requirement for tribal membership and voter registration from one-half to one-quarter. According to the Bureau, Chairman Hunter and Secretary Shaw claimed authority to make the request pursuant to a November 4, 1995 General Council meeting at which five of the fifteen surviving original Village members voted in favor of Resolution 95.47 which authorized holding the election.*fn6 See A.R. 1446, 1707.
On June 7, 1996, after reviewing Resolution 95.47, the Bureau authorized the Village to hold the Secretarial election. A.R. 1567. Eight of the fifteen surviving original Village members registered to vote on the proposed amendment.*fn7 Rosales II, 34 I.B.I.A. at 53.
In an August 28, 1996 letter to the Bureau's Area Director and Superintendent, sent merely three days prior to the previously scheduled election, Plaintiffs (through counsel) claimed Resolution 95.47 was illegal and threatened to "take action" if the election was held. A.R. 2280. The Bureau proceeded with the Secretarial election on August 31, 1996, and did not directly respond to the letter. Seven of the eight registered voters cast ballots in the election and unanimously voted in favor of the proposed amendment. Rosales II, 34 I.B.I.A. at 51. On October 15, 1996, the Deputy Commissioner of ...