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US Judge Orders Remap of a Mississippi State Senate District

February 14, 2019

Associated Press

JACKSON, MISS. A federal judge ruled Wednesday that one of Mississippi’s 52 state Senate districts violates the Voting Rights Act because it does not give African-American voters an “equal opportunity” to elect a candidate of their choice. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in a lawsuit that challenges the composition of Senate District 22. The district stretches through parts of six counties in the Delta down into the Jackson suburbs of Madison County. It has a 51 percent black voting-age population and a white senator, Republican Buck Clarke of Hollandale. The lawsuit was filed in July by three black people. One of them lost in 2015 to Clarke, who took office in 2004. Clarke is not seeking re-election to the Senate this year. Instead, he is running for state treasurer. Reeves is giving lawmakers a chance to redraw District 22 and possibly other Senate districts. Reeves also said in his order Wednesday that legislators could choose to extend the qualifying deadline for candidates in any districts that would be redrawn.

Roosevelt school board sets special meeting Wednesday night

February 13, 2019

Newsday

The Roosevelt school board plans to hold a special meeting Wednesday night to discuss an incident in which images of two nooses — part of a photographic collage — were displayed in a middle school classroom, officials said. The public meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium, according to the district. The session originally was slated for Tuesday night, but was rescheduled because of the snow. The board planned the special meeting after images of the collage were shared widely on social media and by news outlets, sparking outrage within the Roosevelt community and elsewhere. Three Roosevelt Middle School teachers have been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated, administrators said Monday. The race of the teachers was not available. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonprofit civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C., in a letter to the district Tuesday, said it is “deeply concerned that this incident creates a racially hostile environment for students and staff, especially given the demographics” of the student body, which is mostly Latino and African-American.

Trump Justice Dept. Reversing Obama-era Positions on Discrimination Policies

February 4, 2019

CNN

Washington (CNN)Recent Trump administration moves on civil rights bring into sharper focus its efforts to reverse the Obama era and curtail decades-old laws designed to shield blacks, Latinos and other racial minorities from discrimination. Last week, the Justice Department retreated from a prior position and said Texas’ record of voter discrimination did not justify requiring prior approval for any new redistricting maps. The Obama administration had argued that a provision of the Voting Rights Act empowering judges to intervene should cover Texas, which has been mired in minority-voter disputes for years. The administration is also apparently considering retrenchment against policies that appear neutral but have the effect of discriminating against minorities. In December, a federal commission convened by the White House recommended the rescission of Obama policy intended to ensure that African-American students are not disproportionately targeted under school discipline rules.

Texas Official’s Claim About Citizenship of 95,000 Is Called Into Doubt

January 30, 2019

The New York Times

A claim made last week by the Texas secretary of state — that 95,000 registered voters had a citizenship status that could not be determined — appeared to fall apart on Tuesday when local election officials said many of the people were known to be United States citizens. Some registered to vote when they applied for a driver’s license at the Texas Department of Public Safety, which requires them to prove citizenship status to state officials. Others registered at naturalization ceremonies, a data point to which state officials said they did not have access. Election officials in Harris County, home to Houston, said they received 30,000 names — the largest single batch of potential noncitizen voters — from the secretary of state’s office on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, they had determined that roughly 400 of those names were duplicates and 60 percent so far of the others were United States citizens.

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