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Mississippi Racial Gerrymandering Trial Targets State House, Senate Maps

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JACKSON, Miss.—Attorneys arguing that Mississippi’s state House and Senate maps are illegal racial gerrymanders are making closing arguments this week in front of a three-judge panel in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Jackson.

The case, Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP v. the State Board of Election Commissioners, centers around the legislative maps the Mississippi Legislature drew in 2022.

The civil rights organization and several Mississippians first filed a lawsuit against the state on Dec. 20, 2022, over the maps that they allege dilute the voting power of the state’s Black population, violating both the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

“Mississippi has the largest Black population percentage of any state in the nation. Black Mississippians comprise about 38 percent of the State’s residents (based on the Census Bureau’s “Any Part Black” category) and Mississippi’s Black population continues to grow,” the lawsuit states.

“The new maps are only the latest in a long and unfortunate history of manipulating the districting process to undermine Black voters’ political power,” the lawsuit continues. “Because they violate federal law and the U.S. Constitution, Mississippi’s new districting maps should be enjoined, and lawful maps that fairly represent Black voters and all Mississippians should be ordered into place.”

State: Days of Voter Intimidation ‘Behind Us’

The gerrymandering trial is set to end Friday but the judges could take weeks to return a decision. The judges include Chief District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III, District Judge Halil S. Ozerden and Circuit Judge Leslie Southwick; Republican former President George W. Bush appointed all three to the bench.

The NAACP and several Mississippi residents filed a lawsuit against the State on Dec. 20, 2022, saying the state’s congressional maps dilute the voting power of the state’s Black residents.

The lawsuit specifically targets the following districts:

VRA Section 2 Jurisdictions

  • DeSoto County area (SD 2)
  • Hattiesburg area (SD 45)
  • Northeastern MS—Chickasaw/Monroe County area (SD 17, HD 22)
  • South Central MS—Copiah/Simpson/Lincoln/Jefferson Davis County area (SD 35)
  • Western

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