Redistricting Heads To Court - - The News for South Mississippi


Redistricting Heads To Court

A Hinds County chancery judge has set a January 14th trial over Mississippi congressional redistricting. In a ruling handed down yesterday, Judge Patricia Wise says the state Supreme Court has not prohibited the chancery court from hearing cases involving electoral matters.

Wise noted the state attorney general's argument that redistricting should be decided in by lawmakers. But in her ruling, Wise says it's the duty of the court to adopt a redistricting plan when the Legislature fails to act in a timely manner.

Mississippi is losing one of its five congressional seats because it grew more slowly than many other states in the 1990s. Time to draw the new map is drawing tight because 2002 congressional candidates face a March 1st qualifying deadline. The U.S. Justice Department must approve Mississippi's new districts to ensure fairness to minorities, and that could take up to two months. Democratic activists Rims Barber, Bea Branch and others filed suit in Hinds County Chancery Court in October seeking to have new districts drawn there if legislators failed to act.

Lawmakers met for a one-week special session in early November and couldn't reach a compromise.

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