Waters & Kraus and Co-Counsel File Suit Claiming Mississippi State Senate District Violates the Voting Rights Act by Denying African-American Voters Opportunity to Elect Candidates of Choice
TEXAS — Waters & Kraus, LLP is proud to partner with the Mississippi Center for Justice, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and a team of other civil rights lawyers in filing a federal lawsuit on Monday, July 9, 2018, seeking to redraw Mississippi State Senate District 22 prior to the 2019 election. The lawsuit alleges that as currently drawn, the boundary lines of District 22 violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by diluting African-American voting strength.
“Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prevents states from drawing districts in a way that denies minorities the right to elect candidates of their choice,” said Caitlyn Silhan, an attorney with Waters & Kraus. “As currently configured, District 22 does just that. If redrawn as Plaintiffs propose, however, African-American voters in the district would have an equal opportunity to elect candidates of their choosing.”
African-Americans are under-represented in the Mississippi Senate, holding only 25% (13 of 52) of the seats in a state that is at least 35% African-American in voting age population. The suit claims that while District 22 has a 50.8% African-American voting age population, District 22 elections since 2003 have consistently been won by white Republican Eugene “Buck” Clarke, who has defeated his mostly African-American opponents even though African-American voters generally support those opponents.
According to the lawsuit, a combination of white bloc voting against African-American-supported candidates and lower African-American turnout stemming from socioeconomic disparities and historical discrimination have prevented African-American voters from electing candidates of their choice in District 22. The suit states that District 22 would have a higher African-American population if the legislature had not elongated the district by adding wealthy white neighborhoods in southern Madison County to the relatively poor African-American areas in the Delta that comprise much of the district.
Waters & Kraus attorneys Peter Kraus, Charles Siegel, and Caitlyn Silhan join the Mississippi Center for Justice, the Lawyer’s Committee, and civil rights attorneys Rob McDuff and Ellis Turnage as counsel to plaintiffs in the case. Read more about the lawsuit in the press releases from the Mississippi Center for Justice and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
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