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Blacks Violated Voting Rights of Whites:
Noxubee County, Mississippi

Equal Opportunity NOT Equal Results
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Ike Brown, Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee; Noxubee County Election Commission
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Web Posted July 4, 2007

Summary of the Noxubee, Mississippi Voting Rights Case
Noxubee County, Mississippi           A federal judge ruled that black officials and the local democratic party violated the voting rights of whites.

          Prosecutors from the U.S. Department of Justice said this is the first lawsuit to enforce the Voting Rights Act to protect the rights of white voters.

          On Friday, June 29, 2007 U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee ruled that Mississippi's Noxubee County Democratic Party leader, Ike Brown (who is black and is a twice-convicted felon), in conjunction with the Noxubee Democratic Executive Committee, "manipulated the political process in ways specifically intended and designed to impair and impede participation of white voters and to dilute their votes".

INDEX:

Summary
DOJ Docs
News Clips

          The U.S. Department of Justice filed the lawsuit in 2005 charging that Noxubee County blacks tried to shut whites out of the voting process.

          In the lawsuit, the Justice Department accused Mr. Brown of attempting to limit the participation of white voters in local elections which represents a violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

          One DOJ lawyer involved in the case, Mr. Wan J. Kim, said that "Every American has the right to vote free from racial discrimination. The court's ruling is another victory in the department's vigorous efforts to protect the voting rights of all Americans." Mr. Kim is the assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

          U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee said there was a pattern to Mr. Brown's efforts to exclude whites from participating in the county's Democratic Party, including holding party caucuses in private homes rather than public voting precincts and inviting only blacks to the meetings.

          "If the same facts were presented to the court on behalf of the rights of black voters, this court would find that [the Voting Rights Act] was violated," Judge Lee said in his ruling.

          The Noxubee County political machine is run by a twice-convicted felon, a black man named Ike Brown. The Justice Department proved at trial that Mr. Brown's corrupt political machine engaged in a number of actions with the goal of eroding the voting power of the county's white residents, who comprise 30% of the county's population.  In his opinion, Judge Lee noted "...currently, only two of twenty-six elected officials in Noxubee Couty (7.7%) are white, notwithstanding that whites constitute 32.5% of the voting age population." [Emphasis added.]

  • Over 20% of ballots in the county have been routinely cast by absentee voters in spite of the fact that such voters must have a valid excuse to obtain an absentee ballot. In this regard, Mr. Brown, in his role as head of the Noxubee County Democratic Executive Committee, paid notary publics to fill in absentee ballots for voters without the voters' consent.
  • Mr. Brown and his minions made sure that nearly all poll workers in Noxubee were black, and virtually all of them were under Brown's direct influence or control. Under Brown's direction, these poll workers ignored many proper challenges to the ballots of black voters who were not eligible to vote (eg., some of whom were not residents, some were not registered, etc.)
  • The night before an August 26, 2003 runoff election Mr. Brown personally put sticky notes on the ballots of white voters with instructions that the ballots should be rejected during the count.
  • The day of the Aug. 26, 2003 runoff the black poll workers who worked for Mr. Brown took ballots from black voters who were waiting in line and marked their ballots with Brown's preferred candidate choices -- without permission or invitation from the black voters.

U.S. Dept. of Justice Synopsis and Court Documents:

Below is the official U.S. DOJ synopsis of the Noxubee case.

Last known link: http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/litigation/recent_sec2.htm

United States v. Ike Brown and Noxubee County (S.D. Miss. 2005)

          "On June 29, 2007, the Court entered judgment (noxubee_opinion.pdf) for the United States in United States v. Brown, (S.D. Miss). The Court's 104 page opinion held that the Voting Rights Act is a colorblind statute and protects all voters from racial discrimination, regardless of the race of the voter. The Court then ruled that Defendants had an illiegal discriminatory intent to discriminate against white voters.

          "In its complaint (noxubee_comp.pdf), the United States alleged that the practices of local election and party officials discriminate against whites in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The United States entered in a consent decree (noxubee_cd.pdf) with the Noxubee County superintendent of general elections, administrator of absentee ballots, registrar, and the county government.

INDEX:

Summary
DOJ Docs
News Clips

          "The consent decree prohibits a wide range of discriminatory and illegal voting practices, and requires these officials to report such incidents if they receive information that they are continuing. This consent decree was approved by the district court and filed simultaneously with the filing of the complaint."

Available Court Document Downloads
(Adobe Acrobat Reader Required):

DOJ Complaint Feb. 17, 2005

Court Opinion and Order June 26, 2007

DOJ Consent Decree with Noxubee and Officials


Noxubee News Clips

Voting Rights Turnabout Excerpt from the
Wall Street Journal
July 2, 2007
Subhead:
A Victory for Disenfranchised Missippi Voters -- And They Happen to be White

Opinion by John Fund for the Wall Street Journal

          "Last week a federal district judge found direct evidence that the political machine in Noxubee County, Miss., had discriminated against voters with the intent to infringe their rights and that "these abuses have been racially motivated."

          "Among the abuses catalogued by Judge Tom Lee were the paying of notaries public to visit voters and illegally mark their absentee ballots, manipulation of the registration rolls, importation of illegal candidates to run for county office, and publication of a list of voters, classified by race, who might have their ballots challenged. The judge criticized state political officials for being "remiss" in addressing the abuses. The U.S. Justice Department, which sued Noxubee officials under the Voting Rights Act, has called conditions there "the most extreme case of racial exclusion seen by the [department's] Voting Section in decades."

INDEX:

Summary
DOJ Docs
News Clips

          "Explosive stuff, so why haven't you heard about it? Because the Noxubee case doesn't fit the media stereotype for voting rights abuses. The local political machine is run by Ike Brown, a twice-convicted felon. Mr. Brown is black, and the voters who were discriminated against were white.

          "Judge Lee concluded that Mr. Brown retained his power "by whatever means were necessary." According to the judge, Mr. Brown believed that "blacks, being the majority race in Noxubee County, should hold all elected offices, to the exclusion of whites." (Whites are 30% of the county's 12,500 people, but only two of the 26 elected county officials.) Judge Lee also criticized top officials of the state Democratic Party for "failing to take action to rectify [Mr. Brown's] abuses."

          "Critics of the Bush Justice Department bitterly complain that its priorities have shifted away from traditional voting rights enforcement and have questioned if [the Dept. of] Justice should be filing "reverse discrimination" voting rights cases like Noxubee. 

          "In reality, what the old civil rights establishment seems to be most upset about is a shift of priorities. They note the Bush administration has so far only filed two complaints on behalf of black voters, compared with eight filed by the Clinton administration during its last six years. Liberals note that of the voting rights cases the Bush administration has filed so far, seven have been on behalf of Hispanics. But Hispanics are now the largest minority in the country, and it's hardly surprising that more cases would arise involving a population that includes many new citizens unfamiliar with how to combat voter discrimination.

          "Mr. Brown also went through the absentee ballots in other precincts the night before the Aug. 26, 2003, runoff and put Post-it notes on some ballots with instructions indicating they should be rejected. Judge Lee found that "witnesses who saw the yellow stickers maintained that every sticker seen was on the ballot of a white voter."

          "The boss [Ike Brown] left nothing to chance. Witnesses testified that on the day of the runoff, as voters cast ballots in person at polling stations, poll workers walked up unsolicited to black voters "taking their ballots and marking them without consulting the voters."

          "Mr. Brown sounded like Huey Long when he explained his actions. "This isn't Mississippi state law you're dealing with," he told Libby Abrams, a poll watcher for Mr. Heard, Ms. Abrams testified. "This is Ike Brown's law." 

          "Judge Lee had none of it. "If the same facts were presented to the court on behalf of the rights of black voters, this court would find that [the Voting Rights Act] was violated," he wrote.  As part of his ruling, he [Judge Lee] gave lawyers on both sides 30 days to file briefs in the civil matter laying out how they will end the election abuses.  Defendants who violate his order could face contempt of court and fines.

          "It's unclear how much Mr. Brown [the defendant] plans to comply. He isn't returning phone calls from reporters.  He may not be intimidated by the prospect of fines, having served time in federal prison a decade ago for tax fraud.  Last year he refused to sign a consent decree in which county officials promised not to harass or intimidate white voters, fill out absentee ballots for voters, or coach them.

          "Despite abundant evidence that protective measures such as photo ID and tighter controls on absentee ballots aren't designed to suppress voter turnout, the civil rights establishment continues to resist against any effort to improve ballot integrity. Yet as former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young has noted, showing ID is a daily fact of life in America now, and getting such IDs in the hands of poor people would help them enter the mainstream of American life. A poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News last year found Americans backing a photo ID law by 80% to 7%, with two-thirds support among both blacks and Hispanics.

          "At the conclusion of his ruling in the Noxubee case, Judge Lee cited the ruling of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Welch v. McKenzie, a 1985 case in which the court held that "the right to vote includes the right to have one's ballot counted. This includes the right to not have one's ballot diluted by the casting of illegal ballots or weighting of one ballot more than another."

-- Last known link to Wall Street Journal
editorial July 2, 2007


Blacks Violated Voting Rights Act, Federal Judge Rules Excerpt from the
Washington Times
July 1, 2007
Excerpts from the Associated Press story as it appeared in the Washington Times

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - "A federal judge has ruled that a majority-black county in eastern Mississippi [Noxubee County] violated whites' voting rights in what prosecutors said is the first lawsuit to use the Voting Rights Act on behalf of whites.

          "U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee ruled late Friday that Noxubee County Democratic Party leader Ike Brown and the county Democratic Executive Committee "manipulated the political process in ways specifically intended and designed to impair and impede participation of white voters and to dilute their votes."

INDEX:

Summary
DOJ Docs
News Clips

          "The Justice Department accused Mr. Brown of trying to limit whites' participation in local elections in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, written to protect racial minorities when Southern states strictly enforced segregation.

          " 'Every American has the right to vote free from racial discrimination,' said Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.  'The court's ruling is another victory in the department's vigorous efforts to protect the voting rights of all Americans,' Mr. Kim said.

          "The Justice Department charged in the 2006 lawsuit that Noxubee County blacks tried to shut whites out of the voting process.

          "The judge said there was a pattern to Mr. Brown's efforts to keep all whites out of the county's Democratic Party, including holding party caucuses in private homes rather than public voting precincts and inviting only blacks to the meetings.

          " 'If the same facts were presented to the court on behalf of the rights of black voters, this court would find that [the Voting Rights Act] was violated,' Judge Lee said in his ruling.

          " Judge Lee said:  '...there is no doubt from the evidence presented at trial that Brown, in particular, is firmly of the view that blacks, being the majority race in Noxubee County, should hold all elected offices, to the exclusion of whites; and this view is apparently shared by his allies and associates on the [Noxubee Democratic Executive Commitee], who, along with Brown, effectively control the election process in Noxubee County.' "

-- Last known link to AP Story in the
Washington Times
July 1, 2007


END Noxubee Voting Rights Case

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*  We use the term reverse discrimination reluctantly and only because it is so widely understood.  In our opinion there really is only one kind of discrimination.