This Saturday, July 28, C-SPAN Radio’s Supreme Court Historic Oral Argument concludes this month’s election issues cases with a 2003 case about the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Congressional redistricting: “Beatrice Branch and others, Appellants v. John Smith and others, Appellees.”
After the 2000 Census caused Mississippi to lose one Congressional seat, the state legislature failed to pass a new redistricting plan. Subsequently, lawsuits were filed in both the Mississippi State Chancery Court and the Federal District Court, asking that each court issue its own redistricting plan. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the Chancery Court had jurisdiction to issue a redistricting plan. The Chancery Court adopted such a plan, which was submitted for preclearance-- pursuant to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Meanwhile, the Federal District Court issued a plan that would fix Mississippi Congressional districts for the 2002 elections---in the event that the state-court plan was not pre-cleared by the state law deadline. Ultimately, the District Court forbid the state from using the state-court plan and ordered that its own plan be used in 2002--- until the state produced a precleared, Constitutional plan. The state did not appeal and no determination was made on the preclearance submission because the District Court's injunction rendered the state-court plan incapable of administration.
The audio and information in this program are courtesy of the Oyez project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law at: http://www.oyez.org/