UPDATE: July 24, 2019
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”) sent a second letter to officials in Tennessee expressing concern about the absence of diversity in the membership of Tennessee’s Advisory Task Force on the Composition of Judicial Districts (“Task Force”). The letter shares recommendations for changes to a judicial district in southwestern Tennessee that would help begin to ensure that Black voters in Tennessee have an equal opportunity to elect judicial candidates of their choice, consistent with the Voting Rights Act and United States Constitution.
On February 26, LDF sent a letter to officials in Tennessee expressing concern about the absence of diversity in the membership of Tennessee’s Advisory Task Force on the Composition of Judicial Districts (“Task Force”). The letter also shares LDF’s recommendations to improve the representation of people of color on this body.
The Task Force has the opportunity to recommend changes to the districting map from which Tennessee’s judges are elected, which would help to address a shameful lack of diversity across all tiers of the state’s judiciary. Yet the Task Force suffers from a stark diversity deficit of its own. Although people of color are approximately 25% of Tennessee’s population, no Black person or other person of color appears to have been appointed to serve on this 11-member Task Force. Thus, the Task Force’s membership—apparently 100% white—utterly fails to reflect Tennessee’s diversity.
In light of these concerns, and consistent with the Tennessee Supreme Court’s recognition that fostering diversity in the public sphere is “a paramount government objective,” Bredesen v. Tenn. Judicial Selection Comm’n, 214 S.W.3d 419, 438 (Tenn. 2007), LDF’s letter makes five recommendations to facilitate the equitable representation of all Tennesseans in the judicial redistricting process.
Read the full letter here.