Full Supreme Court Denies Democrat Appeal Of Redistricting Plan - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Full Supreme Court Denies Democrat Appeal Of Redistricting Plan

The full U.S. Supreme Court has denied Democrats' emergency appeal in a Mississippi redistricting case, clearing the way for the state to use a a plan drawn by three federal judges.

The nine-member court met about the appeal Friday and denied it without comment and without dissent.

"Of course we're disappointed in the denial, but this was not completely unexpected,'' said Robert McDuff of Jackson, the attorney who filed the Democrats' appeal.

The high court ruling came hours before a candidates' filing deadline Friday for this year's congressional races. McDuff had asked the court to implement a plan drawn by a Hinds County Chancery Judge.

The state court plan is thought to favor Democrats and the federal judges' plan is thought to favor Republicans.

After a decade of slow population growth, Mississippi must give up one of its five U.S. House seats.

Under both the state court and the federal court plan, Mississippi's two junior congressmen, Republican Chip Pickering and Democrat Ronnie Shows, are tossed together into a new central district.

Spokesmen for both congressmen said they expect a tough campaign.

"Both congressmen will work hard and the people will decide who best represents Mississippi's conservative values,'' said Pickering campaign manager Henry Barbour.

Shows' Chief of Staff Glenn Rushing said: "It's going to be the toughest the congressman has run, but we will assure Mr. Pickering it will be the toughest he has ever run.''

Rushing also said the Shows camp has reviewed the composition of the new district.

"This is a wonderful district and we're going to move forward and work with the new counties,'' Rushing said.

Barbour said he was not surprised by the Supreme Court's denial of Democrats' emergency appeal.

"This is what we expected because the law and the facts are clear and we're pleased to start campaigning and have redistricting behind us,'' Barbour said.

Earlier this week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia denied McDuff's initial emergency appeal. McDuff then refiled his appeal with Justice David M. Souter.

Souter passed the appeal on to the entire court for consideration Friday during justices' weekly conference.

The plan drawn by three federal judges puts heavily Republican, suburban Jackson precincts in the new central district where Pickering and Shows will face off.

The state court plan put those precincts in a district that dips down from northern Mississippi and gave the new central district a higher concentration of black voters, who often vote Democratic.

McDuff said he will file a more extensive redistricting appeal and the Supreme Court could hear those arguments this fall. He said that could affect the question of what districts will be used starting with the 2004 election.

Redistricting bounced into the courts after state lawmakers met last fall and deadlocked on how to combine Pickering's and Shows' current districts.

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