Democrats join in on redistricting court fight

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Senate Democrats are the latest group to join an increasingly crowded legislative redistricting court fight.
On Thursday, about 20 of the 52-member chamber’s 25 Democrats voted without dissent to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the state chapter of the NAACP and other Mississippians.
The suit was filed in federal court because the Legislature has not been able to agree on a plan to redraw the 122 House and 52 Senate districts.
The lawsuit asks the court to prevent the state from having scheduled elections later this year under the existing, malapportioned districts. The lawsuit contends that running under the current districts would violate the one-man, one-vote principle of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit also asks the federal court to draw new districts.
Sen. Bob Dearing of Natchez, chairman of the Senate Democrats, said intervening “gives us a seat at the table. We feel we need to be represented since this affects all the Senate districts in the state.”
The House Apportionment and Election Committee already has voted to intervene. In both cases, attorneys will be hired with private funds to represent the legislators.
The NAACP filed the lawsuit against a number of entities, including the state Election Commission – which consists of Gov. Haley Barbour, Attorney General Jim Hood and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann – and the state Democratic and Republican parties.
Other groups of legislators likely will try to enter the lawsuit.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves has asked for briefs from the parties involved in the issue on whether to allow elections under the existing districts. He could issue a ruling at any time.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@journalinc.com.