Three federal judges ruled that Rickey Thompson’s name will not be on the Lee County ballot in November, but the question of whether Thompson’s judicial career is over has not been fully decided.
The three judge panel said that removing Thompson’s name from the ballot did not violate the Voting Rights Act and refused to order a preliminary injunction.
U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves further ruled that the question of whether Thompson may ever sit on the bench again must be decided by a state court.
On Aug. 4, Thompson won the Democratic primary for Justice Court Judge District 4. Two days later, the Mississippi Supreme Court handed down its decision and ordered Thompson removed from the bench for judicial misconduct between June 2012 and October 2013.
When Lee County Democratic Party officials attempted to name a candidate to replace Thompson on the ballot, he filed suit in federal court in Jackson. Thompson argued the state law that permanently removed him from the bench, Mississippi Code 9-19-17, was never precleared by the Justice Department and therefore not enforceable. He also argued that the law diminished black voting strength and judicial qualifications listed in the Mississippi Constitution do not exclude previously removed judges.