TO: Mississippi Businesses
FROM: Delbert Hosemann, Secretary of State
DATE: November 20, 2012
SUBJECT: What the Decision Means–NAACP vs. Barbour, Hood and Hosemann
Sometimes it is hard to remember where you began a journey when you reach its end. Yesterday, a Federal Court panel denied the NAACP’s request to set aside the 2011 legislative election results and order special legislative elections.
With this court order, assuming no appeal, our long journey will be completed. As you may recall, former Speaker Billy McCoy, then Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant, and the respective House and Senate could not agree on legislative redistricting, which would decide who represented your interests in the State Capitol. Litigation was filed to have a three-judge federal panel establish Mississippi’s legislative districts. The Plaintiffs’, as well as others involved in the political process, believed they would have a better chance at legislative redistricting, favoring one side or another through the federal court system.
I opposed the Plaintiffs in this case. Mississippi law allows for elections to be held every ten years, and only nine had expired. The election of our legislature is constitutionally mandated. Redistricting should be accomplished by the people we elect. We should not revert to the federal court system to accomplish a state constitutional mandate when the time to complete that process had not expired.
After the trial, the three judge federal panel ruled in our favor. Specifically, the panel ruled the 10-year period had not expired and our Constitution and State Law should be followed.
The case was appealed to the United State Supreme Court by the NAACP and our position in the lower court was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
Elections were held under the old Constitutional 1992 legislative districts. You should remember, these districts were established by the Mississippi Senate and House when both were controlled by the Democratic Party and were approved by the same Federal judicial panel.
After the legislative elections in 2012, the NAACP again filed against Governor Bryant, Attorney General Jim Hood and myself requesting special elections be held for the remaining three years.
I replied in my brief the Constitution required elections every four years, and this process should be followed. Also of critical importance to me was the normal legislative cycle which exits for four years. Interruption of this cycle by election every two years would force the members of the legislature to contend with re-election as opposed to contending with Mississippi’s legislative issues.
Yesterday, the three-judge federal panel ruled that Mississippi will not face a costly legislative election. The legislature will not be diverted from addressing the many issues required to improve job creation, education, healthcare and other issues in our State. As importantly, the election in the old districts validated the legislative authority to govern. These were not “judicially mandated” districts from which the current members of the legislature were elected. Therefore, the members of the legislature have the strength of their elected mandate to address Mississippi’s legislative agenda.
We will now proceed through the remaining three years of the legislative term, saving both expense, uncertainty, legislative mandate, and, most importantly, our constitutional process.