Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Sid Salter: Federal Court Orders Redistricting Changes

The most recent federal court ruling ordering Mississippi to make changes in state legislative districts based on federal Voting Rights Act violations isn’t your grandfather’s federal court order on legislative redistricting or even your father’s. The new voting rights ruling in the case Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP, et al, v. State Board of Election Commissioners, et al, differs.

Historically, Voting Rights Act cases in Mississippi and much of the rest of the South were dependent on the concept of “federal preclearance” of proposed election changes – changes like the creating new boundaries in state legislative districts – that required prior approval from the U.S. Justice Department before they could be enacted in states “with a history of racial discrimination in voting.”

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled in Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder that Sections 4 and 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act were being unconstitutionally applied in nine states including Mississippi.

Adopted by Congress during the height of the American civil rights struggle, Section 5 of the VRA identified states and localities with a history of race-based voter discrimination and mandated that those “covered jurisdictions” obtain federal approval or “preclearance” from the U.S. Justice Department before making changes to any state or local voting laws or voting districts. The process significantly slowed the process of state and federal legislative redistricting in those states.

But the 2013 high court ruling lifted that preclearance provision and tossed Mississippi redistricting or voting rights disputes directly into the courts like the rest of the country. From a rhetorical standpoint, Southern politicians would rail against the “liberal Justice Department” or “liberal judges” when Mississippi laws or district lines would be ruled in violation of the VRA, but preclearance was no longer an obstacle.

The 2024 court order doesn’t remotely fit that narrative despite reaffirming the state’s clear history of discrimination in voting rights. First of all, the ruling came down from a three-judge federal panel of white Mississippi jurists consisting of 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Leslie Southwick, U.S. Chief District Judge Daniel Jordan and U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden – all of whom were appointed to the federal bench by former Republican President George W. Bush over 15 years ago.

Unlike legislative redistricting disputes in the past, this ruling didn’t toss the entire redistricting plan for the Mississippi Legislature out the judicial window. The ruling is limited in scope to a handful of legislative districts and expressly offers the Legislature the opportunity to provide legal remedies to what the judges identified as an unconstitutional dilution of Black voting strength in three geographic areas of the state.

The ruling requires the creation of new Black-majority state Senate districts in the areas around DeSoto County in Northern Mississippi and in and around the city of Hattiesburg and a new Black-majority state House district in Chickasaw and Monroe counties.

Sounds clear enough, but the fact is that when the lines in one legislative district are adjusted it impacts all the contiguous districts. As the voluminous judicial ruling indicates, legislative redistricting is a complex exercise.

The language of the Mississippi legislative redistricting case reflects similar federal court intervention in both congressional and legislative redistricting litigation in Louisiana and Georgia in which the court allowed state officials to craft their legal remedies for prior maps that diluted Black voting strength. In Louisiana, state officials created a second black-majority congressional district.

In Georgia, a federal judge approved a solution that resulted in the creation of new Black-majority districts but also accepted district lines that protected Republican partisan advantages.

Each Mississippi State Senate district has about 56,998 residents while each Mississippi State House district is comprised of 24,294 residents. In the 2022 legislative redistricting plan that was the target of the lawsuit, 15 (29%) of the state’s 52 state Senate districts were Black majority while 42 (34%) of the 122 state House districts were Black majority.

Mississippi’s population is currently about 59% white and 38% Black.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Can't we just be Americans, and not hypenated Americans? Not white, not black, not "people of color," but just Americans?

Oh wait, the race baiters (NAACP, Jackson, Sharpton, SPLC) would become unemployed and powerless.

Anonymous said...

What about Bennies Congressional District(2) that swoops in and carves out Canton and the rest of rural Madison County but leaves South Madison and Hwy 463 corridor for District 2. That is neat. It was Bennie who pushed that. Democrats are always wanting to move the goalposts.

Anonymous said...

The carpetbaggers and their spawn continue their reign with no expiration date in sight.

Anonymous said...

Please help me..I'm holding my breath for the legislature to create an independent redistricting commission.

Anonymous said...

Ok, if that is the case, we need to draw the maps so that ALL and I mean ALL races are equally represented in the legislature. Let's give them some oddball districts that are maybe 2 foot wide in places in order to be able to capture the correct representation. If it means we have a district that includes a neighborhood in Tupelo, Jackson and Pascagoula, hey at least people are appropriately represented by race in the Legislature. Failing that, let's make a bunch of districts that DO NOT LOOK like a 3 year old with a crayon was drawing on a map of Mississippi on Grandma's wall.

Anonymous said...

You can easily see the gerrymandered maps… NE Jackson lumped in with city of Madison but carving out black areas of ridgeland.

Anonymous said...

Why don’t we create these districts based on lines of latitude and longitude. Take the majority, minority out of the equation.

Anonymous said...

@9:12 -

You should talk to the leadership of the GOP-controlled Mississippi House and Senate if you have a problem with the shape of Bennie’s district. They drew it.

The shape of it became more ridiculous after the 2000 Census, which mandated the shrinking of MS’s Congressional delegation from 5 to 4.

Anonymous said...

@10:04 —

Repeal the Voting Rights Act of 1964.

Anonymous said...


We didn't hyphenate ourselves.. That was you good ole Anglo Saxon red blooded "Americans" that did that for us. You must've missed that part of American History. It's funny you can almost picture how someone looks by the words they use. Race baiter is usually reserved for someone of low education, low income, low confidence and low social standing. I'll just call you poor white trash though.

Anonymous said...

It’s all about population! Bennie got exactly what he wanted minus Northeast Jackson. I heard it out of his mouth !!

Anonymous said...

Get to the damned point, Sid. Sheesh...reading that crap with all of your rabbit trails, historical mumbo jumbo and hyperbole...what's the damned point!? You make my eyes hurt.

Anonymous said...

What's really nonsense is demanding that a district that's already 52% black be redrawn in order to make it 58% black. But that's what you get with a black, racist judge.

Anonymous said...

Growing up I was taught that I didn't get to move the goal posts to gain an advantage. The lesson was, don't cheat. Creative drawing of map lines to achieve a specific outcome is just as wrong as a poll tax or any other wrong that has occurred with elections.

Anonymous said...

Some legacies are sources of pride. Some inheritances are sources of wealth. Some history is our source of great understanding. But with the good comes the bad. Both the good and bad were well earned even if we don't want to accept the latter.

Anonymous said...

July 10, 2024 at 12:15 PM
Yeah, race hustlters routinely lie.

Anonymous said...

Hey boys and girls 3 Republican appointed judges said blacks were gerrymandered to to dilut their vote . Talk about election fraud, this is it .

Anonymous said...

Does Mississippi really need a bicameral legislature? There is often disagreement between our houses, but the Republicans hold a supermajority in both; so does it really matter?

Assuming we do want two bodies, should one be "one per county" and the other based upon population? (This may be unconstitutional, as only the Constitution itself allows for the unique appropriation of our US Senators)

There is bound to be software that can determine the most efficient district lines, regardless of race. Could everyone agree on that model and let the chips, or lines, fall where they may?

Anonymous said...

@5:23 -

Amend the Mississippi Constitution.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:53 - Your claim is nonsense. White folk didn't decide to hyphenate you and didn't change what you prefer to be called 5 or 6 times over the past 60 years. You did that yourselves.

In the fifties you demanded to be called Negroes. Then in the early sixties you changed your identity to colored, then as time went on, you became black, then African-American. Now it's People-Of-Color.

And with each succeeding change, all prior monikers suddenly became slurs. Not once did any white person participate in your morphing.

Anonymous said...

4:00 AM, well said! The goal post must keep changing in order to accommodate the “cry baby, it’s always someone else’s fault” scam. If the 10:53 AM’s of this world followed Robert L. “Bob” Woodson and Shelby Steele instead of the race hustlers that need to keep people “mad enough to vote,” they would understand how correct

Malcom X was when stating: “that white person that you see calling himself a liberal (today its progressive) is the most dangerous thing in the entire Western Hemisphere. He’s the most deceitful, he’s like a fox, and a fox is almost more dangerous in the forest than the wolf. You can see the wolf coming, you know what he’s up to. But the fox will fool you, he comes at you with his mouth shaped in such a way even though you see his teeth, you think he’s smiling.”

This is as true today as in the 1960’s and why you see white elitist Democrats either living behind gates, or in the Republican burbs or they’re fav college town, all protected from out of control Democrat controlled city crime.

Anonymous said...

Your will does not matter. The will of the people, of the majority, neither does that matter. The will of a state’s legislature is of no consequence. Because this is America, where some unelected fedjudge overturns the will of the people and their representatives. That and diversity are America’s superpowers.

Anonymous said...

Oh I hate gerrymandering. It should be eliminated.

We give " our party" carte blanche when they are in office and forget it can be used against us when they aren't in office. How stupid can we be? Millions are spent for one race for office? The two parties are the richest they ever been even using past values of money?

We've removed guardrails on bad human behaviors so crimes that once existed are now legal?

Since I've seen few social interactions and actual friendship ( you know, going to each others homes for dinner and mixed membership in the same social clubs ( civic and business/professional groups are forced) I find the racism glaring.

Frankly, Blacks are guilty as well. I've invited blacks to parties and to my home and have yet to be invited into ONE black home or to their parties in Mississippi. That was NOT the case in 3 other Southern states even back in the '70's.

The wounds are deep and not healed. The distrust between both races is blatant. Whites fear revenge and some blacks learned "governing" from the whites' worst leaders and still see little consistent improvement.

I still have true friends who aren't my race or religion but not here.

I hate seeing both races and the religions fail to learn to understand and appreciate and be enriched by getting to know one another as humans and know that we all have our angels and scoundrels.

And worse, we let self serving politicians and their hacks think for us rather than seeking truth and looking after our own self interests and well being.

Anonymous said...

Blacks are already represented in roughly equal percentages to their population. In fact, Republicans have drawn more black districts in the last two redistricting efforts. White Democrats are the ones who lost out.

Bennies District should have been expanded East rather than south. It goes nearly the length of the state.

Madison County’s redistricting was worse.

Anonymous said...

After his first election, Bennie never had to raise another dime or drop another fillet in the grease. But he's managed to become a multi-millionaire on a pauper's salary.

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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