Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A roundup of recent filings in NAACP v. Barbour, et al, and a response to the Secretary of State's Motion to Dismiss

Here are the latest filings in NAACP v. Barbour, et al.:

Motion to Dismiss by Secretary of State Hosemann

Order Granting Motion by House Elections Committee to Intervene

Motion by Senate Democrats to Intervene

As for the Motion to Dismiss, I have to say, trotting out a ripeness objection is interesting. I don't think it's effective, because I believe Hosemann is arguing past the point: this matter became ripe the second the new census numbers came out and showed a clearly unconstitutional violation of one man one vote. In citing the Watkins v. Mabus decision, they miss the point that Watkins would have been decided differently if time had allowed, and the Watkins court said as much. (Here's the opinion in Watkins v. Mabus.)

Here's a key passage from the Watkins opinion:
Accordingly, although the legislative districts under the 1982 plan are doubtless unconstitutionally malapportioned for a full four-year term of office, this court, exercising its equitable powers, holds that under the facts in this case, including the imminent elections, they may be constitutionally utilized for interim relief. Watkins v. Mabus, 771 F.Supp. 789, 807 (S.D.Miss. 1991)
The circumstances in Watkins were very unique, and that's something folks saying "we'll just run under the current districts" need to understand. The 1991 elections were held under the 1982 districts only because the court didn't have time to draw new maps. The Watkins decision was handed down on August 9, 1991, THREE DAYS BEFORE THE QUALIFYING DEADLINE. Folks, this is April. The federal court has plenty of time to draw new lines, especially in light of the fact that the current lines are so malapportioned.

If you're a legislator and think you'll be o.k. without a plan passing because you'll run in your old district, you could not be more mistaken.

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