Louisiana’s Terrebonne Parish has never elected a black judge, even though one in five parish residents is African-American. In fact, it re-elected a white parish judge who had been suspended for wearing black-face as part of a racist parody Halloween costume. Lawyers for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund say the problem is the discriminatory voting system the parish uses, and last year they sued Gov. Bobby Jindal under the Voting Rights Act to force a change. On Friday, they filed papers asking a federal judge for a summary judgment in their favor. The lawsuit demonstrates how the Voting Rights Act, which was badly weakened by the Supreme Court in 2013, remains a key tool for stopping not only high-profile statewide laws like voter ID, but also a range of local election rules that often fly under the radar.
“This year, as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, the crown jewel of the civil rights movement, Terrebonne voters are still fighting to ensure that their voices are represented in their judicial system,” Jerome Boykin, the president of the Terrebonne Parish NAACP and a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said in a statement. “After a half century, we still are struggling for representation for all voters at the ballot box.”
In depositions, state lawmakers who oppose of the suit have pointed to the election earlier this year of a black State District Court judge in Terrebonne, Juan Pickett, as proof that black candidates can win there. They say the at-large system doesn’t violate the Voting Rights Act’s ban on racial discrimination in voting.
Full Article: In Louisiana parish, a fight for black voting rights | MSNBC.