White v. Mississippi State Board of Elections

Location: Mississippi
Last Update: April 25, 2022

What's at Stake

District lines used to elect Mississippi’s Supreme Court have gone unchanged for more than 35 years. We’re suing because this dilutes the voting strength of Black residents in state Supreme Court elections, in violation of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.

Mississippi’s population is almost 40% Black. Yet in the 100 years that Mississippians have elected their Supreme Court, there have only been four Black justices to ever sit on that body, and never more than one at a time. It has been nearly 20 years since a Black jurist won election to the Court. This only happens because current Supreme Court district lines dilute the voting strength of Black Mississippians.

On April 25, 2022, the ACLU, ACLU of Mississippi, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of individual Black civic leaders, including business and civic leader Dyamone White; Ty Pinkins, a 20-year Army veteran; educator Constance Slaughter Harvey-Burwell; and Mississippi Senate Minority Leader Derrick Simmons. Plaintiffs alleged that the current district plan is unlawful under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, for denying Black voters an opportunity to elect their preferred candidates.

Plaintiffs are seeking to have the districts redrawn so that Black voters have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choice. As it stands, none of the three Supreme Court districts are drawn with a Black voting age majority. But current District 1, which includes Jackson and part of the Mississippi Delta, could easily be redrawn, consistent with traditional principles, to have a majority of eligible Black voters. Especially in light of the high degree of racial polarization in voting in Mississippi, such a change is needed to ensure that Supreme Court elections comply with federal law and allow Black Mississippians a fair and equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choosing.

Trial is scheduled for the summer of 2024, in the Northern District of Mississippi.

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