Supreme Court Blocks Creation of Second Majority Black Congressional District in Louisiana by 2022


The Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended a lower court ruling that Louisiana must draw new congressional districts before the 2022 election to increase black voting power.

With the three liberal justices dissenting, the High Court overruled a federal judge’s order to create a majority black second congressional district in Louisiana.

The state will hold elections this year according to a congressional map passed by its Republican-dominated legislature with white majorities in five of six districts.

The court action is similar to an order issued in February in Alabama which allowed the state to hold elections in 2022 according to a map drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature of Alabama which contains a majority black district. Alabama has seven seats in the House of Representatives.

Judges hear arguments in the Alabama case in October. The Louisiana case will remain pending while the court rules on the Alabama case, the judges said.

Every 10 years, state legislators – armed with new information from the US Census Bureau – redraw political boundaries for seats in the United States House, State Senate, State House, Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, and Public Service Commission. The process ultimately affects the political parties, viewpoints, and people who control the government bodies that write laws, set utility rates, and create public school policies.

This year’s redistricting process in Louisiana has been a tense political tussle, with the Republican-dominated legislature and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards squabbling over borders since February, when lawmakers approved a Congressional map with white majorities in five of the six neighborhoods. The governor vetoed the card. However, the Legislature overruled the veto – marking the first time in nearly three decades that lawmakers refused to accept a governor’s refusal of a bill they had passed.

Democrats and the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus argue that the adopted map dilutes the political clout of African-American voters and that, based on “simple math,” at least two of the six districts should have black majorities. Almost a third of Louisiana’s population is black.

Sen. Sharon Hewitt, a Slidell Republican and leader of the remapping effort, insisted that trying to include the state’s widely dispersed black population in two separate congressional districts would result in two districts with very narrow black majorities that could actually diminish the power of black voters. .

Along with a tense debate in the Louisiana House and Senate, the legal battle to determine the boundaries of the state Congress unfolded simultaneously at all three levels of the federal judiciary.

In early June, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick overturned the card for violating the Voting Rights Act, citing that “evidence of Louisiana’s long and continuing history of voting-related discrimination weighs heavily in favor of the plaintiffs.” . She ordered lawmakers to redesign the map and this time include a second majority black district by June 20.

The US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals briefly suspended Dick’s deadline, but later removed the stay and scheduled to hear arguments in July.

With little willingness to compromise on the part of the GOP and a tight deadline that was not extended, the session ended with no new card, and therefore the task was given to Dick. The judge scheduled a hearing on the matter for Wednesday, but it was canceled following the Supreme Court’s decision.

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