A federal judge in Louisiana struck down a redrawn Congressional voting map in Louisiana yesterday, after the state’s Democratic governor and voting rights activists sued over the fact that it included only one majority-Black district in a state with a population about a third Black.
U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, gave the Republican-controlled legislature until June 20 to come up with a new map. If they don’t, the court will step in with “additional orders to enact a remedial plan compliant with the laws and Constitution of the United States,” Dick’s order said. The deadline is important because it is only a month before a deadline for voters to register to participate in the scheduled midterm congressional elections on Dec. 8, the Advocate reported.
Louisiana currently has six congressional districts. Only one, the 2nd Congressional District, is represented by a Black man, U.S. Rep. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans). The map that was struck down wouldn’t have changed the number of districts or the fact that only one favored Black representation. But opponents of the map noted that Louisiana’s Black population was growing faster than that of whites and that other areas closer to Baton Rouge could have been constructed with Black majorities to ensure racial equity in voting.
“The Court concludes that Plaintiffs have demonstrated that they will suffer an irreparable harm if voting takes place in the 2022 Louisiana congressional elections based on a redistricting plan that violates federal law,” Dick wrote in her order.
The case is among several around the country that paint a picture of how critical the Black vote could be in the upcoming midterm elections. Congressional voting maps are redrawn once a decade, ostensibly to reflect population shifts revealed in the U.S. Census count. But redrawing those maps is left up to state legislatures, which usually try to carve out districts with populations that favor their own parties—a process that often involves race. Black voters tend to favor Democratic candidates while Louisiana’s legislature is controlled by Republicans.
The GOP-drawn map was originally vetoed by the state’s governor, John Bel Edwards, but that was overridden, setting up the legal battle.
Gerrymandered voting maps in Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Ohio and Tennessee have been the subject of lawsuits already this year.
Louisiana Republicans have already indicated that they plan to appeal the ruling in the case, with the hope that they’ll find more favor with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is dominated by conservative judges.