On Thursday, a trio of judges dismissed a lawsuit contesting the 2021 U.S. House map of Arkansas. They concluded that the claimants failed to demonstrate that racial factors drove the Republican-dominated Legislature’s redistricting scheme.
The dismissed lawsuit, brought before a federal panel, argued that the revised map contravened the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act by reallocating thousands of predominantly Black voters from the 2nd District in central Arkansas, which encompasses Little Rock. These voters were subsequently divided between the state’s 1st and 4th congressional districts.
“The claims do not make a credible implication that race was the ‘principal factor’ behind the enactment of Arkansas’s new congressional map,” the judges asserted in their Thursday ruling.
Republican Attorney General Tim Griffin lauded the court’s resolution.
“Today, a federal panel of three judges rejected a challenge to Arkansas’s congressional districts, validating our long-standing understanding: Our congressional districts do not infringe on the United States Constitution and are lawful,” Griffin stated.
Critics of the map have contended that the state Legislature diminished the impact of Black voters by splitting the 2nd District. Republicans currently possess all four of the state’s U.S. House seats, with Democrats failing to win the 2nd District in recent years despite attempts.
This is the second ruling in recent weeks to dismiss a lawsuit questioning Arkansas’ congressional redistricting. Earlier this month, a Pulaski County judge dismissed another suit over the new House borders, decreeing that the grievance should have been lodged with the state Supreme Court.
Earlier this week, a similar challenge against the House map was submitted in federal court.
The three-judge panel in Thursday’s decision had previously discarded a portion of the lawsuit in October, but permitted the plaintiffs to submit a revised challenge. Among those opposing the redistricting plan are two Black state legislators.
Richard Mays, a lawyer representing the residents, expressed his disappointment in the ruling and is contemplating an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Mays expressed disagreement with the court’s criteria for dismissing the lawsuit.
“If this is the standard, it will virtually eliminate any practical attempts to overturn these redistricting acts unless there’s a written admission by the people enacting the legislation that their intent was to racially discriminate against people,” said Mays.