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Mississippi Racial Gerrymandering Case Dismissed in U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme court justices in black robes sitting in two rows in front of red curtains
The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Buck v. Reeves, a case alleging that Mississippi’s congressional district maps are racially gerrymandered, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. Photo courtesy U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to hear Buck v. Reeves, a case alleging that the state’s congressional maps are racially gerrymandered. The decision affirms that Mississippi is no longer required to get federal preclearance for its congressional maps.

In 2002, a three-judge panel ordered Mississippi to use court-drawn congressional maps “in accordance with the procedures in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” However, in 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority struck down Section 5, with Chief Justice John Roberts saying at the time that “things have changed in the South.”

Mississippi is a 38% Black state with four congressional districts; one is majority Black and currently represented by a Black Democrat, U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson, while the other three are majority white and represented by white Republicans.

District 1 is 65.8% white and 28% Black; District 2 is 30.2% white and 65.9% Black; District 3 is 58.7% white and 35.6% Black; District 4 is 68.7% white and 23.4% Black.

Despite being the state with the largest Black population per capita, Mississippi has only sent two Black representatives to Congress since the Reconstruction era after the Civil War: Thompson and his predecessor, former U.S. House Rep. Mike Espy. The state has not elected a Black U.S. senator or any other statewide official since Reconstruction.

Mississippi’s majority-Black capital City of Jackson is currently the center of controversy as white lawmakers are attempting to to pass legislation that would expand its control over the capitol district with state-appointed courts and more state-led policing.

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