/Full 5th Circuit to reconsider Mississippi ‘gerrymandering’ case

Full 5th Circuit to reconsider Mississippi ‘gerrymandering’ case

The appeals court will hear oral arguments in the week of January 20. A new senator will have been elected Nov. 5, and would have been sworn into office for the 2020 session which begins Jan. 7. Monday’s announcement by the 5th Circuit indicated that it would meet en banc (the whole court) to determine whether U.S. Judge Carlton Reeves of Southern District of Mississippi ruled correctly when he ordered the redrawing of district. Reeves’ decision had been upheld by a 3-1 panel of 5th Circuit judges earlier in the summer. The whole 5th Circuit voted on its own to accept the case. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, and Gov. Phil Bryant appealed Reeves’ decision and asked for more time for a request to the full 5th Circuit. The story of a college student who exposed racial bias in gerrymandering led to a lawsuit that forced Mississippi to redefine a voting district. In court filings, Bryant and Hosemann claimed they were looking at “possible resolution of this appeal in place of seeking rehearing (or rehearing EN BANC)”. However, the majority of the 5th Circuit voted to not wait for the “possible solution” and to hear the case. In November, District 22 voters will decide between Joseph Thomas (a former Democratic state senator) and Hayes Dent, a long-term Republican operative, lobbyist, and operative. The district of 102 miles, which covers six counties, was created during the 2012 legislative session. The district’s northern section included the Delta, which was predominately African American. However, it extended all the way to the Madison County area near Jackson. Reeves’ decision was followed by the Legislature when it redrawn the district in 2019. Sunflower County saw the addition of black voters. Bolivar County, which had a majority of white precincts, was removed from the district. They were placed in District 13. According to those who filed the lawsuit, the result was that African Americans could have a black senator in district 13 and one in district 22. Bryant stated on social media that Bryant had made the important decision to order a rehearing of the entire 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Hosemann’s office did not comment on the fact that the new districts would be used to conduct the November election. Rob McDuff was also one of the lawyers who brought the case. He agreed that the election would continue under the new districts. The 5th Circuit could rescind Reeves’ decision, and order new elections for 2020. The Legislature will need to redraw 52 Senate districts and 122 House districts before the 2023 elections in order to conform to the 2020 census’s population shifts. The 5th Circuit currently has 26 judges.
Some of the judges could withdraw from the hearing.