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Federal Judges Compel Mississippi to Revise Legislative Boundaries

 July 4, 2024

A significant ruling by a federal court has demanded Mississippi to alter parts of its legislative map, declaring that the current Republican-drafted districts discriminate against Black voters.

The judicial decision mandates the creation of two new Black-majority Senate districts and one new black-majority House district, as the Washington Examiner reports.

The Lawsuit Sparks Controversy Over District Lines

The legal challenge initiated in 2022 by the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP, alongside voters from different regions, led to this significant verdict. The plaintiffs argued that the legislative map failed to represent Mississippi’s demographics, where approximately 38% of the population is Black. According to data, Mississippi’s Black population has grown by nearly 8,000 individuals since the 2010 census, while the non-Hispanic white population has decreased by over 83,000.

The three-judge panel released a 119-page opinion on Tuesday, finding that the Republican-controlled redistricting process had diluted Black voters' influence. This court order is a stern directive to rectifying what the court sees as a denial of an equal voice in state governance for black Mississippians.

“The court rightly held that the Mississippi Legislature used the redistricting process to dilute the power of Black voters,” said Jarvis Dortch, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.

Redistricting Around Key Locations

The judges mandated that the two new Senate districts should be mapped out around DeSoto County in the northwest region of Mississippi and the city of Hattiesburg in the southern part. Additionally, the new House district is to be located in the Chickasaw and Monroe counties in the northeast.

This decision follows the approval of a new redistricting plan by Mississippi lawmakers in the wake of the 2020 census. Despite notable population shifts, the Mississippi Legislature had not adjusted the number of majority-black districts accordingly, prompting the judiciary to intervene.

“Because a Black-majority district is a virtual prerequisite for black candidates’ success in Mississippi politics, it is relevant that the Mississippi Legislature left the number of majority-black districts unchanged following the recent Census,” the judges emphasized.

Implications for the Political Landscape

The importance of these districts in promoting Black candidates' electoral success in Mississippi, as noted by the judges, cannot be overstated. The alteration of district boundaries aims to provide black voters with more equitable political representation.

If the ruling is not further contested, special elections will be scheduled in the three newly delineated districts. This has the potential to reshuffle the state's political landscape significantly.

“We will discuss with counsel soon and chart a path forward,” commented Elizabeth Jonson, a spokesperson for the Mississippi secretary of state’s office, indicating that the office is currently reviewing the court’s decision.

Historical Context and Legal Proceedings

The overarching argument in the lawsuit was that the map did not reflect the actual demographic changes in Mississippi. The Black population's increment and the white population’s decline were central to the complaint.

The absence of an increase in majority-Black districts post-census was a glaring inconsistency highlighted in the lawsuit. The federal court’s mandate aims to correct this imbalance.

The ruling showcases the importance of precise legislative boundaries in ensuring fair political representation, a critical factor in the state’s governance.

Reaction and Next Steps

The immediate reaction from civil rights advocates has been one of validation and relief. The ACLU and other organizations supportive of the lawsuit see this move as a critical step toward equity.

Meanwhile, state officials are deliberating on whether to appeal the decision or proceed with the redrawing of the districts as stipulated by the court.

Given the complexity and ramifications of this court order, the paths forward will likely involve rigorous legal and political considerations, impacting both local and state-level dynamics.


A federal court has ordered Mississippi to redraw significant portions of its legislative map, deeming the current setup discriminatory against Black voters.

The ruling mandates the creation of two new black-majority Senate districts and one new Black-majority House district, reflecting Mississippi's demographic recent changes. This decision, prompted by a 2022 lawsuit from the NAACP and voters, has underscored the importance of equitable representation and may lead to special elections that could shift the state’s political landscape.

The Mississippi secretary of state's office is currently assessing the ruling to determine possible next steps.