Court Delivers Vicious Blow To Republican Gerrymandering

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One of the most unfair and ultimately discriminatory voting practices in wide use today is the practice of gerrymandering, a practice that Merriam-Webster defines as “to divide or arrange (a territorial unit) into election districts in a way that gives one political party an unfair advantage.”

The practice is even more prevalently used in red states, but thanks to Judge Carlton Reeves, the 2020 Senate election will be less affected by it.

Mississippi Today reports that:

‘In June, three African American men who live in District 22 filed a federal lawsuit accusing the state of gerrymandering that district, which lies mostly in the majority black Delta, to intentionally dilute African-American voting strength. On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled that the district violates the Voting Rights Act and ordered the Legislature to redraw the district before statewide elections in November.’

The judge ordered that the district be redrawn to be brought into compliance with the Voting Rights Act. Current state Senator Buck Clarke has been in office for nearly 15 years, and does not intend to run for reelection, but the redistricting could affect the chances of any Republican running in the future. District 22 would no longer be a sure bet for the right.

‘As presently drawn, District 22 does not afford the plaintiffs ‘an equal opportunity to participate in the political processes and to elect candidates of their choice.’

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The legislature will now need to meet to redraw district lines. Six counties in the Delta and Central Mississippi are included in District 22, with a border line of over 102 miles.

‘Reeves noted that the plaintiffs had already suggested three alternate plans that comply. Two of those plans would affect only Districts 22 and 23. A third plan would affect Districts 22, 23, and 13. Those seats are held by Clark, Sen. Briggs Hopson, R-Vicksburg, and Sen. Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland, respectively.’

Similar decisions have been reached by the courts in Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina. President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Kristen Clarke said in a statement to reporters following the decision:

‘Gerrymandering stands as one of the greatest threats to democracy today. The current districting plan in Mississippi’s state Senate effectively denies African American voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process.’

Featured image via Flickr by Keith Ivey under a Creative Commons license