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Arkansas Legislature will retain outside counsel in lawsuit challenging new congressional map

by Neal Earley | August 19, 2022 at 3:56 a.m.
The Arkansas State Capitol is entered via the tunnel under the massive staircase. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/Marcia Schnedler)

The Arkansas Legislature will seek to retain outside legal counsel in a lawsuit challenging the state's new congressional map.

The Arkansas Legislative Council Executive Subcommittee voted Thursday to approve a request from the Bureau of Legislative Research to hire law firm Mitchell Williams. The move comes after a subpoena was issued to the Bureau of Legislative Research for documents related to the state's redistricting effort.

Jillian Thayer, legal counsel for the Bureau of Legislative Research, said the documents sought in the subpoena are protected by "legislative privilege." Thayer said the attorney general's office could not handle the bureau's request for legal help with the subpoena and to seek outside counsel.

In March, six Pulaski County residents filed suit saying the state's new congressional map was unconstitutional as it split much of the county's Black population into three separate congressional districts.

The Republican-controlled Legislature approved the new congressional districts last year after the latest census. Opponents of the map contend the new map is a racial gerrymander that moves 23,000 mostly Black and urban voters from the 2nd Congressional District, which covers most of Pulaski County, to the mostly white and rural 1st and 4th districts.


Print Headline: Legislature to hire legal counsel for map lawsuit

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