The Christian Ministerial Alliance joined three voters Tuesday to file a lawsuit against the Arkansas State Board of Election Commissioners and Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston over alleged voter dilution arising from Arkansas’ 2021 redistricting plan. The state adopted new legislative redistricting maps for both its Senate and House in 2021.
The Legal Defense Fund filed the complaint in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. It states that “race was the predominant factor in creating Arkansas’ Second Congressional District in the 2021 Redistricting Plan, intentionally singling out Black voters for unequal treatment and dilution of their electoral power.” The petitioners allege that this sort of classification violates both the Fourteenth Amendment and the Fifteenth Amendment. The complaint goes on to argue that an excessive amount of residents in parts of Pulaski County, which is densely populated with a majority of Black residents, were moved out of the Second Congressional District and replaced with residents from an area densely populated by white residents. Pulaski County’s Black voters were spread across the First, Second, and Fourth Congressional Districts, which the petitioners state “dilutes the power of the state’s largest community of Black voters.”
Ultimately, the petitioners alleged that the redistricting plan failed to follow general redistricting principles and the requirements set forth by the Arkansas Board of Apportionment. In submitting their complaint, the petitioners are seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, they are asking the court to make a finding of racial gerrymandering in the redistricting of the newly adopted Second Congressional District, such that enforcement of its boundaries should be preliminarily and permanently enjoined.
This is not the first legal action that has been brought against the Arkansas state government over this redistricting plan. Suttlar v. Thurston and Simpson v. Thurston are two similar suits that have been brought by Arkansas voters.
This action comes as the nation awaits a decision from the US Supreme Court in Moore v. Harper, which could rule that state legislatures possess the exclusive power to draw congressional maps.