Mississippi civic leaders Monday filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi Supreme Court claiming that the state is violating the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the US Constitution.
The civic leaders, who are also citizens of Mississippi, argue that the drawing of the district lines “used in Mississippi’s State Supreme Court election” dilutes the value of Black voters. The civic leaders request that the districts get redrawn so “Black voters in Mississippi have a full and fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice.”
Ari Savitzky, who is a senior attorney for the Voting Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said “Mississippi’s Supreme Court districts dilute the voice and the votes of Black Mississippians in violation of federal law.”
Although Mississippi’s population is nearly forty percent black it has only had four Black justices in its history and only one black justice has been on the state’s nine-member Supreme Court at a time. Justice Leslie King is the fourth Black justice to sit on the Mississippi Supreme Court. All four Black justices who have sat on the Court were originally appointed by the governors but later won elections.
Ty Pinkins, one of the civic leaders and a citizen of Warren County, Mississippi said “A Black citizen from the Mississippi Delta should have just as much of an opportunity to elect candidates of their choice to the Supreme Court as anyone else, and a Black lawyer from the Delta should have just as much of an opportunity to serve on the Court as anyone else.”
The ACLU of Mississippi, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and the Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP joined together to file the lawsuit on behalf of Mississippi’s Black civil leaders.
The next Mississippi Supreme Court elections will be held in 2024 and three members of the court will be running for re-election.