A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Eastern District of Arkansas alleges that the state's system for electing appellate court judges illegally deprives black voters of choice in representation on the benches of the Arkansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.
The suit claims that Arkansas' at-large election of judges to the Supreme Court, as well as its division of Court of Appeals districts, violates the Voting Rights Act by "illegally diluting the voting strength of Black voters in Arkansas."
There are no black judges on the seven-member Arkansas Supreme Court, and only one black judge on the 12-member Court of Appeals.
The suit was brought by a former circuit court judge, Marion Humphrey; a former prosecutor, Olly Neal; and Ryan Davis, the director of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s Children International.
Attorneys with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, as well as firms in Little Rock and Washington, D.C. are representing the men.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman said Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is "reviewing the complaint and considering next steps."