Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and coalition partners sent a letter to the Mississippi Standing Joint Legislative Committee on Reapportionment and the Standing Joint Congressional Redistricting Committee regarding their obligations under the Mississippi Open Meetings Act to make all redistricting meetings open to the public. Coalition partners include: the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, American Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters of Mississippi, Mississippi Center for Justice, Mississippi Votes, Mississippi State Conference NAACP, One Voice, Southern Echo, Inc., and Southern Poverty Law Center.
The letter outlines the coalition’s concerns that the Committee is performing its official duties and drawing redistricting maps outside of the public eye, in contravention of the requirements of the Open Meetings Act. The Open Meetings Act requires the Committee to make all of its deliberations, decisions, and business open to the public. Media reports suggest that the Committee intends to adopt new maps before the beginning of the 2022 legislative session, but many of the public hearings held thus far occurred before the release of U.S. Census data, preventing the public from offering input based on that data or on the actual maps proposed by the Committee. In order for public input to be more meaningful, the Committee must offer the public real opportunities to comment on the Committee’s maps before they are proposed to the Legislature. The Committee must fulfill its obligations under the OMA in order to conduct a transparent redistricting process. Transparency is critical to achieving maps that are fair and equitable for all Mississippians.
Read the full letter here.
LDF has been closely monitoring the redistricting processes in key states to prevent discriminatory redistricting plans and ensure that legislatures comply with their obligations under the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. Read more about LDF’s redistricting work here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.