NAACP argues for court to dive in
JACKSON (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers are gone from the Capitol, but arguments about legislative redistricting are continuing with a flurry of papers filed in federal court.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The 122 state House districts and 52 Senate districts need to be redrawn every 10 years to account for changes in population. The 2010 Census showed significant growth during the previous decade in north Mississippi’s DeSoto County, just south of Memphis, Tenn. Parts of the economically struggling Delta lost population.
All 174 legislative seats are up for election this year.
The NAACP filed a lawsuit in March, seeking to block elections using the current legislative maps because some districts have far more residents than others. The group argues that the unbalanced populations among the districts violate the constitutional principle of one-person, one-vote.
Hosemann, a Republican, argued in papers filed April 1 that the state constitution gives lawmakers until 2012 to draw new districts. He said the NAACP’s lawsuit, therefore, should be dismissed.
“Secretary Hosemann does not dispute that the current legislative districts, drafted and implemented in 2002, are malapportioned based on 2010 Census data,” attorney Robert L. Gibbs wrote. “However, this fact alone does not permit this court nor a three-judge panel, to take away the responsibility of drawing legislative districts from the Mississippi Legislature, which is constitutionally mandated to draw lines.”