/Judge refuses to toss Constitution provision that could throw governor’s election to House; but leaves door open to revisit

Judge refuses to toss Constitution provision that could throw governor’s election to House; but leaves door open to revisit

Jordan opened the possibility of reexamination of the 1890 Constitution provisions in the state. These provisions were based on various accounts and were intended to prevent African Americans from being elected to state office. Jordan released a ruling Friday questioning the constitutionality the requirement that a candidate must win the majority of House districts. Jordan refused to remove the provision, even though he did so just days before Tuesday’s elections. It is possible that future litigation could still be possible. Jordan denied Friday a preliminary motion to overturn the provisions. The issue could still be subject to trial. In the ruling, he stated that “Though the court is at the preliminary stage it has grave concerns about the Electoral-Vote Rule (requiring a candidate win a majority in the House districts) being unconstitutional.” Jordan was not happy with the timing of the decision. His ruling left the possibility of revisiting the provision after Tuesday’s election, if a candidate wins the majority of votes, but not all House districts. He wrote that the plaintiffs wanted a ruling before Election Day to prevent irreparable harm from happening at that time. “Under Mississippi law the votes are certified 10 day after the election…So although there could be irreparable injury if it is applied, the judge may then declare it unconstitutional.” McDuff stated that McDuff believed the plaintiffs had no grounds to appeal. Jordan noted that the provision has not prevented the person with the highest number of votes from winning a state election. However, the provision was in effect in three consecutive elections in 1990. Two of them saw candidates without the most votes ask the House to vote in the highest vote-getter. One, in 1999, was the election for governor. The House voted for Ronnie Musgrove, Democrat, who was the top vote-getter, over Republican Mike Parker. In May, seven black Mississippi voters were represented by attorneys from the Mississippi Center for Justice and the National Redistricting Foundation. They asked for the removal of the provisions because they dilute black voter-strength. The lawsuit was opposed by Delbert Hosemann, Secretary of State, and Philip Gunn (House Speaker). Jordan was able to hear oral arguments in the case early in October. This year, the issue is more important than ever because most people believe that the Democrats have elected a candidate for governor. It was Attorney General Jim Hood who made the announcement. According to those who wish to amend the law, statistical analysis by their researchers has shown that Hood would need to win approximately 55 percent of the vote in order to capture a majority. This is because the House districts are drawn in favor of Republican candidates. His opponent, Republican Lieutenant Governor. Tate Reeves would need to win just 47 percent of the vote. Reeves refused to declare that he believes the highest vote-getter should win.