Black Voters In Mississippi Blocked From State Court Election: Lawsuit


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A group of voting rights advocates in Mississippi is pushing back after they say a district election map purposefully leaves out Black voters in a state-wide Supreme Court justice election.

According to the Mississippi Free Press, the lawsuit was filed Monday (April 25) by the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi and alleges that none of the state's three voting districts used to elect state Supreme Court justices is majority Black, despite the state having the highest percentage of Black people in the country. This, the group says, violates the Voting Rights Act and the US Constitution.

"Although Mississippi's population is almost 40% Black, none of the three districts from which voters elect justices to the Mississippi Supreme Court is a majority Black district," the ACLU said in a statement announcing the legal action. "The lawsuit asserts that Mississippi Supreme Court boundaries deny Black voters an equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice."

In Mississippi, the north, central, and south districts are used to hold elections for its highest court. Each district elects three justices who all serve eight-year terms. Elections for the Mississippi Supreme Court are held on a staggered, non-partisan schedule, The Free Press explained. Currently, there is just one Black justice on the state's high court, Justice Leslie King, who was initially appointed by Gov. Bill Allain to fill a vacancy and won re-election in 2012 and again in 2020.

King is one of four Black justices to serve on the high court in state history, however, all of them served on the Supreme Court only after being appointed by a white governor.

"No Black candidates have been successful at running for Supreme Court justice unless they've been appointed first," Mississippi ACLU Director Jarvis Dortch told The Free Press. "That's not exactly giving Black voters a choice. I would argue that it's not giving them much of a choice at all in who they select."

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