Courts Out of Redistricting

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The Mississippi Supreme Court says state judges cannot draw congressional district lines.

In Thursday's 6-2 decision, the justices said the Mississippi Constitution, state law and past court rulings give that authority only to the Legislature.

The ruling vacated a decision by a Hinds County chancellor who drew congressional districts for the 2002 election after the Legislature could not agree on how the districts should look.

The ruling does not affect congressional districts ordered for the 2002 elections by a federal three-judge panel.

Justice Bill Waller, Jr., said the federally-drawn districts will remain in place until a federal court throws them out or the Legislature draws districts approved by the Justice Department.

Waller said the Legislature can redraw congressional districts in time for the 2004 elections and get them approved by the Justice Department under the Voting Rights Act. The Legislature convenes in January.