Lawsuit: Mississippi legislative district dilutes black vote

A state Senate district in Mississippi dilutes black voting power and should be redrawn, three African-American plaintiffs say in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

Posted: Jul 10, 2018 9:55 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A state Senate district in Mississippi dilutes black voting power and should be redrawn, three African-American plaintiffs say in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

The suit asks a judge to order legislators to reconfigure the district before the 2019 state elections.

District 22 has a 51 percent black voting-age population, and the suit says it lacks "real electoral opportunity" for African-Americans.

"The lack of opportunity is the result of white bloc voting and lower African-American turnout that are vestiges of the historical discrimination and extreme socio-economic disparities that have been inflicted upon African-Americans over a long period of time," the lawsuit says.

The district has been represented since January 2004 by Republican Sen. Eugene "Buck" Clarke of Hollandale, who is white and is chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

The district is more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) long, stretching through parts of six counties — Bolivar, Humphreys, Sharkey, Washington, Yazoo and Madison. It goes from the impoverished Delta flatlands down into the affluent Jackson suburbs.

Clarke said Monday that he had not read the lawsuit, but all of Mississippi's legislative districts were approved in 2012 by the Justice Department under then-President Barack Obama.

"Here's the problem: The Delta's losing population," Clarke told The Associated Press on Monday.

He said changing one legislative district would affect others around it.

"You can't just move one little line somewhere," said Clarke, who has not decided whether he will seek re-election in 2019.

The lawsuit says District 22 could be redrawn to have about a 60 percent black voting age population, and "one or two adjacent districts" would have to be changed.

Mississippi's population is nearly 38 percent black. The lawsuit says the state's voting age population is at least 35 percent black, while African-Americans hold 25 percent of seats in the state Senate — 13 seats of 52.

The lawsuit says no African-American candidate has been elected to the Mississippi Senate in a district with a 51 percent black voting age population. One current African-American senator is from a district with a 55 percent black population, while all others are from districts that are at least 61 percent black, the suit says.

One plaintiff is Joseph Thomas of Yazoo City, who served in the state Senate from 2004 to 2008 in a district adjoining Clarke's. More of Yazoo County was added to Clarke's district after the 2010 Census, and Thomas ran against Clarke in 2015. Clarke won with nearly 54 percent of the vote.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 145636

Reported Deaths: 3745
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto963299
Hinds9584195
Harrison6848109
Jackson6124118
Rankin528598
Lee484295
Madison4633105
Forrest368186
Jones345287
Lauderdale3350143
Lafayette315049
Washington3097107
Lamar281849
Oktibbeha239261
Bolivar239083
Lowndes228863
Neshoba2164115
Panola211749
Marshall208350
Leflore200890
Pontotoc194728
Monroe190277
Sunflower189755
Lincoln186165
Warren172257
Tate164251
Union160925
Pike160458
Copiah158940
Yazoo151239
Scott150229
Itawamba147634
Coahoma147443
Pearl River144467
Simpson144253
Alcorn143925
Prentiss140429
Grenada136945
Adams136548
Leake131843
Holmes124961
George122224
Tippah121530
Covington117636
Winston116624
Wayne115823
Hancock114139
Marion111046
Attala107833
Tishomingo106142
Newton102729
Chickasaw102432
Tallahatchie95527
Clarke88553
Clay87027
Jasper81122
Walthall75028
Stone72414
Montgomery71925
Calhoun71613
Carroll70614
Lawrence70214
Yalobusha69427
Noxubee69217
Smith68816
Perry65225
Tunica59619
Greene58422
Claiborne57416
Jefferson Davis54217
Humphreys52618
Amite51214
Benton48417
Quitman4796
Webster42014
Kemper40917
Wilkinson38622
Jefferson33811
Franklin3235
Choctaw3077
Sharkey30617
Issaquena1114
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 236865

Reported Deaths: 3472
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31043491
Mobile19446360
Tuscaloosa12684150
Madison12528146
Montgomery12122235
Shelby992276
Baldwin837684
Lee759765
Morgan626247
Calhoun6049113
Etowah600564
Marshall596153
Houston510838
DeKalb469635
Cullman421136
Limestone408844
St. Clair403955
Elmore398961
Lauderdale387253
Walker356199
Talladega339044
Jackson302524
Colbert297641
Blount282236
Autauga266139
Franklin246233
Coffee236615
Dale228454
Dallas222331
Russell21923
Chilton218537
Covington215933
Escambia196931
Tallapoosa171790
Chambers171448
Pike156014
Clarke155319
Marion135535
Winston126623
Lawrence123936
Geneva11848
Pickens117618
Marengo117424
Barbour116710
Bibb115717
Butler114341
Randolph100321
Cherokee99624
Hale93231
Washington89918
Clay89623
Fayette86216
Henry8436
Lowndes78929
Monroe77911
Cleburne75614
Macon71720
Crenshaw70330
Bullock69019
Conecuh68214
Perry6726
Lamar6337
Wilcox62818
Sumter56222
Choctaw41813
Greene41317
Coosa3144
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