The landmark case marks the first time in history that the federal government has used the 1965 Voting Rights Act to protect the rights of white voters.
Lee in 2007 ruled in favor of the U.S. Justice Department officials who claimed that Brown disenfranchised white voters in Noxubee County in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Brown appealed the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and a three-judge panel affirmed Lee's ruling last week.
The feds proved that Brown and his loyalists rigged the voting process against white voters by manipulating voter rolls, making threats to ban some whites from voting and miscounting ballots to ensure white candidates lost, and committing other discriminatory acts.
In the 2007 statewide elections, Lee banned Brown from running Democratic Party primaries to ensure whites' voting rights weren't violated.
Last June, the state Democratic Party stripped Brown of his seat on the State Democratic Executive Committee. But Democratic insiders say an effort is afoot to return Brown to the committee.
For longer than a decade, when voter ID was discussed in Mississippi it brought an automatic mention of Brown's name. Because he was a state Democratic executive committee member as well as a county chairman, the state Democratic Party has had to carry Brown's baggage into the voter ID argument.
The Voting Rights Act was written to protect racial minorities when Southern states strictly enforced segregation.
For state officials supporting voter identification legislation, the federal appeals court's affirmation of Brown's guilt on racially based voter discrimination is the political gift that keeps on giving. Republicans have long made Brown the poster child for voter identification and other election reforms they back.
Democrats who oppose voter ID say it's a solution in search of a problem and that voter ID would intimidate some voters. But the flamboyant Brown has been the political symbol of voting irregularity claims that Republicans say voter ID would resolve.
Brown's detractors point to last year's Associated Press analysis that indicated that 29 of Mississippi's 82 counties had more registered voters than people of voting age. An analysis by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann showed that in Noxubee County - a low-growth area with a struggling economy - had a 2000 voting-age population of 8,697 and an October 2008 voter registration roll of 10,225.
Brown's loss of his appeal to the 5th Circuit gives brief new life to the man-bites-dog story that made national headlines about African-American Mississippians being accused by the federal government - then found guilty - of discriminating against white voters.
That story will be used to turn up the heat in favor of voter ID. And, to a degree, Brown's actions in Noxubee County and similar political shenanigans in Wilkinson and Benton counties have created a more favorable political environment for voter ID.
Voter ID legislation has passed both chambers of the Legislature this session. That likely has less to do with Brown and more to do with the desire of Democrats to get early voting and other reform in return for concessions on voter ID.
If traditional legislative efforts fail again, state Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, is trying to gather enough signatures to get a constitutional amendment for photo ID on the ballot.
The loss of Brown's appeal will make those signatures easier to get - for in Ike Brown, Republicans seeking voter ID have no better friend or political ally.
Contact columnist Sid Salter at (601) 961-7084 or e-mail email@example.com.