FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2023
Contact: Chyna Fields, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON – Following over seven hours of arguments today in NAACP v. Reeves, Judge Henry Wingate ruled to extend the temporary restraining order barring Mississippi Chief Justice Michael K. Randolph from appointing judges under H.B. 1020 to the Seventh Circuit Court District in Hinds County. The first three hours of the hearing focused on whether Judge Randolph has judicial immunity with respect to the appointments, a point on which Judge Wingate plans to rule by the start of next week. As a result of today's decision, Justice Randolph cannot proceed with issuing the H.B. 1020 judicial appointments until the temporary restraining order has been lifted. Judge Wingate has not yet set an expiration date for the order.
Mississippi State Conference Executive Director Charles Taylor released the following statement reaffirming the NAACP's commitment to protecting the constitutional rights of Jackson's predominantly Black residents:
"House Bill 1020 is a direct threat to our democracy and undermines Jackson residents' right to engage in the political process. The people of Jackson deserve to have a voice in what their judicial system looks like and to see themselves reflected in those making decisions about their lives. Judge Wingate's decision to extend the temporary restraining order, prohibiting the undemocratic court appointments required by House Bill 1020, is a win for Jacksonians and their fundamental freedoms.
If allowed to move forward, these laws will have devastating consequences for Jackson residents, causing greater disparities within an already broken legal system and imposing more unaccountable policing on our predominantly Black community. The NAACP will not stand by and allow our constitutional rights to be hijacked. We will continue to fight for our fellow Jacksonians and are prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure their rights are upheld."
The lawsuit - which was brought by NAACP's Office of General Counsel in collaboration with Covington & Burling LLP - challenges two state statutes, H.B. 1020 and S.B. 2343. Both have garnered national attention for their consistent oversteps in threatening the rights of Jackson, Mississippi - a majority Black city. The first statute, H.B. 1020, creates a new court with an unelected judge appointed by the Mississippi Supreme Court, which will have the ability to hear and determine all preliminary and criminal matters within the District. This legislation also creates a court-packing plan by appointing four unelected Circuit Judges to the Seventh Circuit Court District in Hinds County. The second statute, S.B. 2343, significantly expands the Capitol Complex Improvement District to bring the entire city of Jackson under the control of the state-run Capitol Police. The statute would also significantly restrict Mississippi residents' ability to protest and hold demonstrations in and around buildings considered property of the state, thus stripping them from their voice and constitutional right to peaceful protest
The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.
NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.