Judge finds possible problems with Voting Rights Act in House redistricting, but says U.S. attorney general must join case to consider merits


Federal Judge Lee Rudofsky found hints of a Voting Rights Act violation in the Republican redistricting of Arkansas House of Representatives districts, but today declined to rule on the merits, claiming that the case should have been brought by the United States Attorney General.

He is giving the Department of Justice five days to join the case.

The key paragraph of the decision:

Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. From what the Court has seen so far, there are strong arguments based on the fact that at least some of the disputed districts in the council’s plan are illegal under section 2 of the Districts Act. voting rights.12 For the reasons set out below, however, the Court cannot go to the merits. After a thorough analysis of the text and structure of the Voting Rights Act and a careful review of the relevant case law, the Court concluded that this case could only be brought by the Attorney General of the United States.

Before dismissing this case, however, the Court will grant the United States five calendar days from the date of this order to join the case as plaintiff. If the United States chooses to become a claimant in this case, the Court intends to move quickly to a final decision on the merits.

More to come from Austin Bailey.

Here is his 42-page decision.

For now, the quarters are holding. If the United States Attorney General does not act soon, they will stand for good.

Even a Federalist, Republican, Trump judge couldn’t deny evidence compiled by plaintiffs in the ACLU-backed lawsuit that the Republican apportionment board — including Rudofsky’s former employer, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, and a man he backed for governor, Asa Hutchinson — had intentionally drawn districts in such a way as to diminish black electoral influence.

The notice deals almost entirely with standing and the case for private action by groups — the Arkansas NAACP and the Public Policy Panel — rather than individual plaintiffs. There is no detailed discussion of the evidence on how the districts were drawn to reduce the number of majority black districts at a time when the black population was growing and the white population was shrinking in a state that has always presented a race-biased voting scheme.

UPDATE: The question of standing was raised by the judge himself, not by the parties to the case.


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