Louisiana Lawmakers Lose Battle in Court Over Congressional Map
It's back to the drawing board for Louisiana lawmakers. A Baton Rouge federal judge has tossed out the Congressional maps approved earlier this year during a special session.
The Judge has called on lawmakers to approve another black majority Congressional district to better represent the residents of Louisiana which has a population of about 33% blacks.
The map drawn by lawmakers was vetoed by Governor John Bel Edwards. But lawmakers overrode that veto.
In his veto message, Governor Edwards said "this map is simply not fair to the people of Louisiana and does not meet the standards set forth in the federal Voting Rights Act. Edwards said in his veto message. The Legislature should immediately begin the work of drawing a map that ensures Black voices can be properly heard in the voting booth. It can be done and it should be done."
Federal Judge Shelley Dick of the United States Court for the Middle District of Louisiana ruled that the plaintiffs "are substantially likely to suffer irreparable harm."
In her opinion, Judge Dick wrote:
"The appropriate remedy in this context is a remedial congressional redistricting plan that includes an additional majority-Black congressional district. The United States Supreme Court instructs that the Legislature should have the first opportunity to draw that plan. Therefore, the Court ORDERS the Louisiana Legislature to enact a remedial plan on or before June 20, 2022. If the Legislature is unable to pass a remedial plan by that date, the Court will issue additional orders to enact a remedial plan compliant with the laws and Constitution of the United States."
State Attorney General Jeff Landry says in a Tweet, the state will appeal this ruling.
The two maps approved during the special session were authored by Republicans House Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senator Sharon Hewitt. Those maps kept the state with just one Black Congressional district.
Governor Edwards urged lawmakers to draw the lines with the 2020 census numbers in mind. The data shows one-third of Louisiana's population is not white.
The ACLU and the NAACP sued the state after lawmakers overrode the veto.
Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin says “the Department of State’s legal team and I are reviewing the ruling entered by Judge Shelly Dick this afternoon. Our office has filed a Notice of Appeal to the Fifth Circuit along with the other named parties in the original action. The Louisiana Department of State does not comment on pending litigation.”