Wednesday, March 16, 2011

***BREAKING*** House: Courts to handle redistricting if Senate does not concur

Word from the House is that if the Senate does not concur on JR 201, then the House will not appoint conferees. As obstructionist as Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant has become in this process, the conferees would no doubt be his foot soldiers Fillingane, McDaniel, and Hewes, who didn't even favor the plan the full Senate passed overwhelmingly. Going to conference with three individuals dead set against any reasonable House plan would be a fool's errand. Instead, a lawsuit will be filed next week in order to give the federal courts ample time to draw new districts before the June 1 deadline.

The reasoning behind this is that if the courts are going to draw the lines anyway, they might as well get started so that the lines will be complete by June 1. And why would the courts refuse to allow legislators to run in their current districts? The current districts are so malapportioned as to devastate the "one person one vote" principle. The smallest district, population-wise, is 13,000, while the largest is 55,000. There's no way the courts let an election under those circumstances go forward.

The net effect of going to court next week? The Legislature loses all control over redistricting, and new lines will be in place before June 1. That means that those legislators who think they are going to run this year in their current districts if conference is invited are mistaken. That would mean a certain end to the senatorial careers of Sen. Buck Clarke (R-Hollandale), Sen. Nolan Mettetal (R-Sardis), Sen. Briggs Hopson (R-Vicksburg), Sen. Ezell Lee (R-Picayune), and Sen. Lydia Chassaniol (R-Winona). There will certainly be other casualties as well.

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