Voting rights have a long history in the South, but a Baton Rouge lawsuit regarding the races of city court judges is giving locals and students a new sense of awareness on the issue. Baton Rouge residents Byron Sharper and Kenneth Hall filed suit against the state in October of 2012 for not drawing new district lines for Baton Rouge city court judge elections after the 2000 census indicated the location of the city’s primarily African-American population. Three out of the five judgeships are white, and Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson told The Advocate about 55 percent of the city’s population is African-American. The lawsuit argues against the Baton Rouge City Court that election boundaries weaken African-American votes and is still waiting on a ruling from federal courts.
Attempts to redraw district lines were made in this year’s legislative session by state Rep. Alfred Williams, D-Baton Rouge, but his bill was shut down.
Political communication junior Jacob Irving interned for attorney Steve Irving this summer and said this case is of particular political interest for students because it affects everyone.
“A lot of people think of gerrymandering as some distant kind of thing, and it’s affecting you,” Irving said.
Irving said even if students are not from this area and find themselves having to go to court for something minor, they are still affected by this case.