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Judge says House Bill 1020 is considered constitutional under Mississippi law

Photo courtesy of Hinds County Chancery Court/Facebook

A Hinds County Chancery Court judge has released a decision stating that House Bill 1020 is not considered unconstitutional, according to Mississippi law.

Chancellor J. Dewayne Thomas handed down the ruling on Monday morning, denying requests to grant an injunction as the plaintiffs “failed to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.”

The suit — which was filed by Jackson residents Anne Saunders, Sabreen Sharrief, and Dorothy Triplett — would have prevented the bill from creating an appointed court system in Mississippi’s capital city as well as expand the jurisdiction of Capitol Police. The legislation is slated to go into effect on July 1.

Thomas cited the reasoning behind his decision, saying that although the court is aware of the plaintiff’s frustration with the way the bill was passed, the legislation does not violate the state constitution.

“This Court notes that the actions of many Mississippi Legislators have been severely criticized for lack of consideration of the desires of the citizens of the City of Jackson and Hinds County in pursuing the same,” Thomas explained. “The Court is cognizant of the cries of Plaintiffs, and numerous others, that the legislation is based on unfair and even racially motivated attempts to take over the Capital City. As a lifelong citizen of Hinds County and a lifelong friend and neighbor of many of those decrying the same, this Chancellor is not unmoved. However, Mississippi law is clear that this Court may not consider the motivation for the legislation or its policy.”

Although HB 1020 has been passed out of one court, the legislation is still expected to face a lawsuit filed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) that prevents the bill from going into effect amid a temporary restraining order (TRO).

The restraining order, which was approved by U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate, temporarily blocks the Mississippi Supreme Court chief justice from appointing judges in the city of Jackson. Wingate has scheduled the next hearing on the matter for May 22 in U.S. District Court.

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