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Thomas v. Reeves

Three African American voters in Mississippi filed a lawsuit alleging that State Senate District 22 violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Last Updated: June 23, 2020
Published: September 23, 2019

Note: The Bren­nan Center is not a parti­cipant in this case.

Case Back­ground

Three African Amer­ican voters from Missis­sippi State Senate District 22 filed a federal lawsuit chal­len­ging the district under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Plaintiffs alleged that the district dilutes the votes of African Amer­ic­ans and prevents them from elect­ing their candid­ate of choice. The plaintiffs also claimed that District 22 could be redrawn to increase the black voting age popu­la­tion from 50.8% to 60%, which would permit them to elect a preferred candid­ate. 

On Febru­ary 13, 2019, the court concluded District 22 viol­ated Section 2. The legis­lature then redrew the district. On August 1, 2019, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s ruling and approved the use of the legis­lature’s redrawn district for future elec­tions.

The defend­ants reques­ted a rehear­ing en banc, and on Septem­ber 23, the Court of Appeals gran­ted the rehear­ing. Oral argu­ment took place on Janu­ary 22, 2020. On June 19, 2020, the en banc Court of Appeals unan­im­ously declared the issue moot, vacated the lower court’s opin­ion, dismissed the appeal, and instruc­ted the lower court to dismiss the case.

Docu­ments

District Court

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (appeal of Febru­ary 16 order)

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (emer­gency motion for stay of judg­ment)