Groups appeal dismissal of Arkansas redistricting case

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday appealed a judge’s decision to dismiss a lawsuit that claims Arkansas’ new State House districts are diluting the influence of black voters in the state. State.

The ACLU filed the appeal on behalf of the Arkansas State Conference of the NAACP and the Arkansas Public Policy Group, which had filed a lawsuit challenging the redistricting plan of the State for its 100 seats in the House.

The plan created 11 majority-black districts, which groups challenging the map said were too few. They argued that the state could have attracted 16 majority black districts to more closely reflect the state’s black population. According to the 2020 census, 16.5% of the state’s population identifies as black alone or in combination with another race.

The groups argue that the redistricting plan violates the Voting Rights Act, the 1965 law prohibiting racially discriminatory voting procedures or practices, by significantly underrepresenting black voters.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky dismissed the lawsuit on Tuesday, ruling that private parties have no right to challenge districts under the Voting Rights Act. Rudofsky, who was appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump, gave the Justice Department five days to intervene, but he refused to do so.

“No court has ever held that individuals cannot enforce their rights under the VRA,” Holly Dickson, executive director of the ACLU of Arkansas, said in a statement. “We will continue to fight alongside our customers to ensure that the voting rights of Black Arkansans are protected.”

The week-long period for applicants to apply for state and federal positions in Arkansas began Tuesday.

“More than 300 candidates have already applied in May,” Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said in a statement. “It’s time for the ACLU to admit defeat and allow the election process to move forward in accordance with Arkansas law.”

The Republican-controlled State Allocation Council approved the new boundaries in December. The panel is made up of Governor Asa Hutchinson, Rutledge and Secretary of State John Thurston. Republicans hold a majority in both houses of the Legislative Assembly.

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