Mississippi Congressional Redistricting Goes Into Effect as Scheduled by Legislature | Mississippi Politics and Current Affairs
A three-judge panel allowed the newly drawn district maps to stay in place as the midterm primary election approaches.
During Mississippi’s 2022 legislative session, lawmakers were tasked with redrawing the lines of congressional districts to represent changes in the state’s population since the last census in 2020.
The biggest changes have occurred in the 2nd congressional district, which has seen its population decline by about 65,000 over the past 10 years, according to early census reports. This has since been called into question following the release of the post-census survey which showed Mississippi was likely undercounted by 4.11%, or 120,000 people.
READ MORE: Census Bureau says Mississippi was underestimated in 2020 — by 4.11%
Legislation to enact congressional redistricting, HB 384, was to ensure the 2nd District complied with the Voting Rights Act as it relates to black voting-age population, or BVAP, after population displacement .
A three-judge federal panel met last week to determine the constitutionality of the redistricting plans as presented. The panel consisted of judges E. Grady Jolly of the 5th U.S. Circuit, David Bramlette of the Southern District of Mississippi, and Henry T. Wingate of the Southern District of Mississippi.
Prior to the judges’ meeting, arguments were made by groups such as the NAACP claiming that there was racial gerrymandering in current district lines. Justices Jolly and Bramlette declined to rule on those arguments, continuing with traditional law to defer to the legislature on redistricting issues.
“However, in keeping with the Supreme Court’s well-established principle of deference to the legislature in redistricting matters, this judge is of the view that our panel should show deference at this time and allow the legislature to review the redistricting plan. of HB 384 in the 2023 Legislature session,” Justice Bramlette wrote.
However, Judge Wingate commented on the disputes.
“The majority have concluded that the 2011 final judgment of this court should be set aside in its entirety,” Wingate said. “Unfortunately, the majority also declined to address the constitutionality or legality of Congress’s new four-district redistricting bill, House Bill 384 (“HB384”). If we adopt the majority view, however, we escape our judicial duties.
Ultimately, Wingate decided to modify the current injunction that would allow the next scheduled election to go ahead, but also met the immediate demands to reach a decision on the Section 2 interrogation.
“I come to the above conclusion because HB 384 may be constitutionally flawed, while our preserved injunction system is certainly constitutionally flawed,” Judge Wingate added. “The citizens of Mississippi should not have to face these unsavory consequences – forced to suffer either unconstitutional law or possibly unconstitutional law – when we can begin the analysis now and, if necessary, the healing process. “
The three judges agreed that these decisions would not prevent the NAACP from bringing additional lawsuits against the newly drawn lines, but that the decision was necessary because of “the late hour”. Primary elections are scheduled for June 7, with general elections scheduled for November.
RELATED: Mississippi House Passes Congressional Redistricting Plan
When HB 384 passed through the Legislature, Democratic leaders from both houses made proposed amendments that would conform to the NAACP’s plan. Democratic House leader Robert Johnson’s state representative proposed an amendment in which he would not move the four southernmost counties into District 2, but instead include more Hinds and Madison counties.
Rep. Johnson said his concern was the compactness of the districts, saying the “Magnolia 1” plan means District 2 would cover almost half the state, some 40 counties and hundreds of miles, making it difficult for a congressman to well represent this area. The amendment failed and the plan was adopted.
Read the full memo below: