State leaders are embarrassing us

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Last year’s Census data didn’t exactly sneak up on Mississippi lawmakers, they knew it was coming.

Yet, ignore it they did. Now, state Republicans are seeking the help of the federal courts to redraw the U.S. congressional district lines in the state.

Census data shows the lines needed to be redrawn to balance out the districts due to population changes.

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It’s the Legislature’s responsibility to do the work, but despite spending considerable time during the 2011 session arguing about state district lines, they didn’t make much progress on the U.S. congressional district lines.

Sadly, we’ve been here before. Lawmakers failed to act after the 2000 Census, too, forcing the federal courts to do Mississippi’s homework.

It’s a shame when Mississippians cannot work together and find common ground on something as simple as redrawing a map.

For years, we’ve argued that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 unfairly punishes Mississippi nearly five decades after the tumultuous Civil Rights Era brought justice to all Mississippians.

Section 5 requires that the U.S. Department of Justice “preclear” any changes made to voting qualifications or districts to ensure that the changes will not have a discriminating effect against minorities.

We’ve long believed that Mississippi was past the need for such detailed, big brother oversight, but if our own state lawmakers cannot handle the simple task, maybe we were wrong, or maybe we just need new representatives in Jackson.