Supreme Court Heads Off Second Black District for State

Justices block lower court ruling over Voting Rights Act issues in Louisiana
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 29, 2022 5:45 PM CDT
Justices Block New Districts to Increase Black Clout
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards speaks during a news conference in Baton Rouge in February.   (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton, File)

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday put on hold a lower court ruling that Louisiana must draw new congressional districts before the 2022 elections to increase Black voting power. As a result, Louisiana's November congressional elections will be held using a Republican-drawn map with white majorities in five of six districts, the AP reports. The high court's ruling paused an earlier decision by a federal judge concerned that the map violates the Voting Rights Act and dilutes Black voter clout. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, expressed disappointment with the decision.

Creating a second African American-majority district was "about simple math, basic fairness, and the rule of law," Edwards said. "Black Louisianans make up one third of our population, and one third of our districts should be majority Black when such a map can be drawn, and, as has been clearly demonstrated, that map is more compact, better adheres to the legal principles governing redistricting, and will perform," he added. With the three liberal justices dissenting, the high court short-circuited the earlier order from US District Judge Shelly Dick to create a second majority Black congressional district in the state. As the map stands, five of Louisiana's six seats appear likely to remain in Republican hands.

State Rep. Vincent Pierre, chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, said he was disheartened by the Supreme Court’s decision and added that "hopes for change in the short term have been dashed." The Democrat described the map approved by the legislature as an "obvious violation" of the Voting Rights Act. Democrats and the Black Caucus argue that by the numbers at least two of the six districts should have Black majorities. Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, a leader in the remapping effort, has 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 Black voter power.

(More redistricting stories.)

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